Pocatello State of the City Address

At the beginning of each year the Mayor of Pocatello presents a State of the City address that looks back at the past calendar year to assess the city's performance in providing services to residents, the status of economic development and overall well-being of the City of Pocatello. Below you will find the most recent State of the City address.

2021 State of the City Address

Mayor Brian Blad
Presented January 6, 2022

Airport

At Pocatello Regional Airport, more economic development is happening. The City and Morton Buildings entered into a lease, and Morton broke ground last month on a 35-acre parcel where they will have a manufacturing plant for custom buildings.

In 2021, staff with assistance from consultants began the process to update the airport’s 20-year master plan for airfield infrastructure. The plan is expected to be completed and presented to the City Council in 2023.

For 2022, the one-of-a-kind origami art exhibit in the terminal building will be finished. The Bureau of Land Management’s tanker base expansion will be bid soon with construction set for spring 2022, and 2 new airport hangers will also be finished next year.

Animal Services

2021 saw the Animal Services Department install a new play yard for the shelter animals, as well as a security system and fire system, thanks to the help of Friends of the Pocatello Animal Shelter. The play yard is gives dogs more room to play and allows staff an area to work with dogs that need extra training.

Animal Services also continued to develop working relationships with outside shelter partners, giving the City the ability to transfer long-term animals to a new/different geographic area increasing their chances at adoption.

Building

In 2021, the Building Department issued over 2,700 permits with a total valuation of approximately 91 million dollars. This includes permits for 150 new family dwellings and 40 new non-residential buildings. Overall, the inspectors performed 5,600 inspections for this year’s permits.

Fire

2021 saw a record number of calls for the Pocatello Fire Department. This year crews responded to 8,323 calls, which was up 33 calls from their previous record in 2017. Staff worked with the Mayor and City Council to adopt the 2018 International Fire Code and submitted the department’s 30-year capital plan to the Finance Department. Part of that plan included the purchase of 3 wildland fire engines which were paid for with a federal grant, a donation from Idaho Central Credit Union and savings within the department’s budget. Also in 2021, the Fire Department received its 7th American Heart Association Lifeline EMS Gold Plus Award. This is a true testament to the dedication of our employees.

Again this year, several of our firefighters were deployed to wildfires across the West including to fires in California, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and different regions in Idaho. One engine crew also provided coverage in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

Information Technology

In the Information Technology Department, 2021 was another big year for cybersecurity. The department utilized a new Department of Homeland Security malicious domain blocking and reporting tool to analyze a weekly average of 2,748,827 internet clicks. This tool blocked an average of 811 clicks per week to help maintain the integrity of the City’s computer systems. The department also continued to provide refresher training on cybersecurity to all employees who use the network.

The department also unveiled a newly redesigned City website in February 2021. The new look incorporates Pocatello’s flag, as well as a photo slideshow featuring work by local photographers Eric Gordon, Charles Peterson and Rob Kirkham, as well as the in-house camera talents of Chris Sorensen and Ken Wilson and a sketch of the valley drawn by former employee Maggie Clark.

Mayor & Council

In early 2021, more than 30 Pocatello businesses and organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic received assistance from the City’s small business grants program. The City Council set aside $250,000 from the City’s allocation from Governor Brad Little’s coronavirus financial advisory committee for local businesses. Businesses received up to $10,000 for qualified expenses related to COVID-19, and grant sizes ranged from $10,000 to $500.

The Mayor & City Council Department received 2 awards at the Association of Idaho Cities Annual Conference. The first recognized the outstanding work of former Public Information Officer Logan McDougall for his efforts with Pocatello’s COVID-19 Stay Smart Stay Safe Stay Open Campaign. This campaign was a joint effort between the City, Southeastern Idaho Public Health, Idaho State University, Portneuf Health Partners, Pocatello/Chubbuck School District #25 and the Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce. The second award honored the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council who hosted an essential needs drive for those less fortunate in our community. Donations collected were given to St. Vincent de Paul, Valley Mission, SEICAA, God’s Home of Compassion Pantry and Gate City Christian Church Pantry.

In October, outgoing City Council President Heidi Adamson helped The League of Idaho Cities’ kick off its “Readers Becoming Leaders” program by reading the Friends City book to 3rd graders at Wilcox Elementary School. Students learned about city government and the services we provide. Employees and equipment from the Public Works, Police and Fire Departments were also present to highlight what city government does.

The department also worked with the Bannock County Elections Office on the November General Election and December Mayoral Runoff Election.

Parks and Recreation

In 2021, the Parks and Recreation Department debuted its Partnerships Program to the community. This program provides opportunities for community partners to help the department realize significant projects and improvements to the park system. As a result, the department successfully partnered with

  • Connections Credit Union for construction of the new Zoo Connections Entrance and Gift Shop Building, which is set to open for the 2022 season
  • Zoo Idaho Zoological Society for the purchase and donation of the log cabin building structure
  • Western States CAT for development of a new pathway connecting Zoo Idaho’s lower and upper levels with ADA accessible paths via the Zoo’s south side, running adjacent to the Rocky Mountain elk exhibit and continuing south along the basalt rock ledge.

Parks and Recreation staff also worked together with the Idaho Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee to proudly bring the Idaho Gold Star Families Memorial Monument to Pocatello. On May 28, 2021, the monument was unveiled to the community. This beautiful monument is dedicated to honoring and remembering the fallen and their families who bear the loss of a loved one in military service to our nation.

2021 also saw the department make improvements at the Halliwell Ballfield in collaboration with Pocatello American Legion Baseball and School District #25. Synthetic turf was installed at the pitcher’s mound and home plate in time for the 2021 season. Staff also completed a replacement of infield material as part of the improvements.

Cemetery staff completed development of Sections #56 and #57 at the southern end of Mountain View Cemetery. This work, completed entirely by in-house staff, included large scale grading and debris removal, installation of extensive irrigation system additions, tree planting, hydro seeding and construction of asphalt pathways.

The 2022 goals for the Parks and Recreation Department include having the City Council adopt the final Ross Park Master Plan, as well as to continue working with community partners to make improvements to help all of us “Play Often and Live Better!”

Police

The Pocatello Police Department worked cooperatively with stakeholders to improve service levels with an eye toward costs. Their efforts resulted in approximately $600,000 of personnel and equipment being added using additional funding, grants and program fees.

In 2021, one of the department’s K9 officers passed away, but as a result of a generous donation from the Phil Meador family, K9 officer Thor has been hired. K9 Thor has just finished 460 hours of training and will be working the streets of Pocatello very soon.

Looking to 2022, the department plans to reorganize the animal control, code enforcement, licensing and parking officers into one singular Ordinance Enforcement unit to enhance responsiveness. A full-time Internet Crimes Against Children Officer will be added to the ranks thanks to a grant from the State of Idaho. This individual will be working to protect our youth from online

predators. The department will also work to hire and maintain patrol officers, as well as continue to offer top notch training and leadership opportunities to all our officers.

Public Works

The Public Works Director implemented the City’s Energy Task Force and facilitated an energy audit for the City of Pocatello.

Engineering

The Engineering Department made strides on many important projects this year. All of the right of way property was acquired for the Hawthorne and Quinn intersection project. Our community rating system for floodplain insurance was updated as were the department’s ordinances. Staff also supplied design and construction support for City projects like the Bullock Street waterline extension, Whitman lift station rehabilitation, and the Nordic Center’s new pad for their building.

The department had a very busy year with 108 utility right-of-way use agreement licenses and 83 code enforcement calls. Staff also conducted 706 right-of-way inspections, which consisted of

  • 102 approach inspections totaling 2,898 linear feet
  • 241 sidewalk inspections totaling 14,398 linear feet
  • 70 curb inspections totaling 2,425 linear feet
  • 4 valley gutter inspections totaling 115 linear feet
  • 127 asphalt patch inspections totaling 2,419 linear feet
  • 109 ADA curb ramp inspections

In 2022, the department will be working on the South 5th Avenue and Jason Street safety project which is funded by a grant received this year. They will also be assisting various City departments with projects such as the Indian Hills pressure sewer line replacement/rehabilitation, construction of the Whitman and Hayes lift station, and construction of the Pocatello Creek booster station and transmission pipeline.

Fleet Services

In 2021, this fairly new department for the City of Pocatello implemented a standardized preventative maintenance program to ensure all assets are maintained to industry standards. In-house mechanics repaired and maintained approximately 580 fleet assets in accordance with the program. Staff also developed a right-sizing model to eliminate redundancy in purchasing and decrease costs within the City’s fleet. Using this model, there were 25 assets disposed of in 2021.

For 2022, staff plans to research incorporating alternative energy vehicles into their new capital replacement plan. Doing so will decrease the City’s fuel consumption and help to lower the City’s carbon footprint.

Geographic Information Systems

Our Geographic Information Systems staff improved our web map application that provides the public with maps including zoning districts, FEMA information, recreation, local trails and basic reference information for Pocatello and the surrounding area. The division also helped design the Planning Department’s public outreach maps and surveys for “Our Valley Our Vision.”

Sanitation

The Sanitation Department implemented Routeware, a new asset management program that optimizes routes and creates a more efficient process. Drivers now take pictures to account for each required stop on their route, which has helped streamline the department’s customer service efforts.

In April 2021, the glass recycling program hit its one million pounds collected mark and went on to end our fiscal year with a total of 1,227,240 pounds of glass collected. This represents an approximate 3% diversion rate for our count landfill since the program began in 2018.

2022 will have the department continue to utilize Routeware to enhance their garbage, recycling and yard waste collection routes.

Science and Environment

This year the Science and Environment Division worked with watershed partners to complete 4 river access points on the Portneuf River between the Gap and downtown Pocatello. Staff also began work on an access point at Douglass Lane, north of I-86. The Science and Environment Division also worked with volunteers to install stream crossing signs along the Portneuf River and small creeks such as Johnny Creek. This is where our water goes when it runs off our streets. Protecting these streams is a priority for our community, which prioritizes the Portneuf River as healthy river and recreational resource.

Street Operations

2021 was a great year for the Street Operations Department. Crews treated 36 miles of roadway with either fog seal, micro seal or paving. The department also implemented new PM peak-hour signal timing plans for the Pocatello Creek/Alameda Road corridor and the upper East Center Street corridor. The new timing plans improve traffic flow and reduce congestion, saving both time and fuel for motorists. In fact, staff was able to document a 40-second travel time reduction for the Pocatello Creek/Alameda Road corridor.

The Street Operations Department also partnered with Idaho Power Company to utilize their energy efficiency incentive to replace the 250-watt street light fixtures with 73 watt LED fixtures at the intersection of US 30 and North Main Street. The resulting wattage reduction allows for ongoing cost savings to the City and the new long-life LED fixtures will require less maintenance which results in fewer traffic disruptions.

Next year, the department plans to focus on the City of Pocatello’s Storm Water MS4 Permit requirements.

Water

The Water Department produced and treated 5.1 billion gallons of water in 2021. Although the water is very pure from our aquifers, a small amount of chlorine is added to ensure purity and protection throughout the water system. The City’s annual water quality report details the quality of Pocatello’s water and lists any contaminates that may have been detected, and we were pleased to be in 100% compliance with the federal Drinking Water Standards.

Crews replaced 2 miles of water mains in the areas of East Lovejoy Street, Fredregill, South 1st Avenue, North Lincoln Avenue, and Jefferson Avenue this year. The department, in conjunction with the Utility Billing Department, also upgraded and replaced nearly 2,900 encoded receiver transmitter devices throughout the city.

Next year, in addition to planned water line replacement projects, the Water Department will be completing the design process for a new booster station and transmission line that will provide additional water and system redundancy to the Highland Bench area. The department will also be drilling 2 new test wells in the northern section of the city to explore the feasibility of a new production well and redeveloping a replacement for well #2.

Water Pollution Control

In 2021, the Water Pollution Control Department cleaned over 1.2 billion gallons of water, removing over 99.5% of all contaminants. Testing by staff ensured that all aspects of the wastewater entering

and exiting the wastewater treatment plant was in compliance with the City’s Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. The department also completed a facility plan that will help keep the treatment plant’s capacity ahead of projected population growth. As a result, several projects were identified that will replace aging infrastructure.

Collection system staff inspected several miles of new subdivision sewer mainline and cleaned over 260 miles of high pressure and gravity mainlines. Laboratory and pretreatment personnel completed several hundred inspections of businesses and industrial users to ensure compliance with the City’s ordinances.

Pocatello Regional Transit

In 2021, Pocatello Regional Transit provided over 161,000 passenger trips.

The department also purchased a set of vehicle lifts for its maintenance facility. The vehicle lifts have increased the department’s efficiency and safety when maintaining and repairing the fleet. The lifts were 100$ funded through CARES ACT monies.

In coordination with the Idaho Transportation Department and as a recipient of federal transit funding, PRT acquired two 2008 low mileage cutaway buses at no cost. The buses have been utilized throughout PRT’s transit system and have allowed the department to extend the life of other high mileage buses.

In 2022, PRT is looking to replace 3 fixed route bus shelters in the urban program. The project will replace shelters that have exceeded their useful life and will be ADA compliant. This project is possible through a Federal Transit Administration grant and local match from the Gate City Rotary and Pocatello Housing & Community Partnerships.

The department also plans to replace its Intelligent Transportation System that will update PRT’s fixed-route and demand response mobile data terminals, dispatch software and provide real-time passenger information features for citizens. This project will be funded 100% through CARES Act monies.