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Despite ‘naysayers,’ Pocatello city councilman proposing to combine Pocatello and Chubbuck

The idea has been brought up before, but Pocatello City Council member Jim Johnston thinks now is the time to merge Pocatello and Chubbuck into one city.

He said it would mean substantial tax cuts for residents.

“I think the majority of people will recognize that this is by far the clearest way in which we can save money for our taxpayers by consolidating the two communities,” Johnston said.

Johnston said thanks to the public discourse over property assessment hikes, he thinks it’s the right time for a big move like this.

He estimates that by combining the duplicated services, like police forces, parks and utilities, it could save more than $12 million a year.

He hopes that by next spring, the issue would be on the ballot for Chubbuck and Pocatello citizens to vote on. If enough people agree, a new mayor and city council election would have to be held for the new city.

“We have two city councils, two mayors. Over a four-year period, we could save about $3.1 million if we eliminated one of those city councils and one of the mayor situations with salaries and benefits,” Johnston said.

Johnston said he thinks the cities would do their best not to eliminate any city jobs other than through attrition and retirement. He expects pushback.

“In this area, there are many naysayers. ‘Leave it the way it is, let’s just do what we’ve been doing.’ But I’m ready to make some changes,” Johnston said.

The Idaho State Journal reported that a lot of resistance to the idea is coming from Chubbuck, the smaller of the two cities. Chubbuck Mayor Kevin England called the idea a “hostile takeover,” according to the Journal.

Johnston disagrees.

“Some people would think, well, Pocatello’s just going to swallow this up. That’s not what we want. We want this to be a new community. New identity,” Johnston said.

One identity being considered is the Gate City, which would have more than 70,000 residents, surpassing Idaho Falls’ population.

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