I. CALL TO ORDER
In Attendance: Lauren Golden, Lynea Petty, Stacy Whitman, Amy Mattias, Jamie Truppi, Kaz Thea, Larry Schoen
II. Community Food System Strategic Plan
Ken Meter completed a second round of interviews the week of December 10. He will have a draft of his report for our review in January. He then will collect our comments and revise the draft to come up with a list of strategies that each group endorses, and is ready to proceed to implement.
At our spring event, he could present this as the work plan for the next few years, and use the meeting to refine the work plan but more importantly to assign tasks to specific people and groups and come out of the meeting with a timetable for implementing and people who will take charge of each step. Ken proposes that his spring presentation be a two-part meeting:
A workshop for the most committed to launch work plans;
A public meeting so a broader public hears what is happening, and knows who is in charge of making all this work. Ken could present the data and the plan, and local people could speak to how they will move forward.
Once we get marching orders from Ken, Council members could look into getting an AmeriCorps member to help lead the Blaine County Food System Strategic Plan. Jamie would like to see geographic area covered in Ken’s interviews and compare with South Central Public Health District. Council members discussed the idea of having the spring event in Twin or Shoshone. Stacy will email Ken to ask who needs to be at these community meetings and possibly plan around some other reason for farmers to come. We discussed aiming for the first two weeks of April. BCFC will need to cover Ken’s travel expenses estimated at about $1,600. Lauren may have $500-600 in SARE money that she can contribute.
III. Curbside Composting
Kaz is working on setting up meetings with Winn and Mike Gointendea. Last week, Lynea shared information that she researched (see below). One council member expressed concerns about the safety of Winn’s Compost. Specific concerns include groundwater contamination and fire hazard. The location of the facility, use of second-hand equipment, public coming in and out, and lack of oversight are issues. Is it an accident waiting to happen?
IV. Grocery Tax Repeal
Per Breland Draper of IORC, there are many disagreements on the amount of revenue that the grocery tax actually places into the general fund. The big problem is that the state Tax Commission does not track food separately from other sales tax items, so the only way to get a number is to guess what percentage of the overall sales tax revenue groceries take up. As you can expect, the number varies greatly. The number that the 2017 grocery tax exemption bill used was in our opinion high. The bill sponsor said as much but we wanted to be careful and not sell the bill short. The second part to this is the fact that Idaho has a grocery tax credit, which also takes money out of the state revenue. So, the state takes sales tax, holds it, then sends a portion back to residents who file for the credit. The administrative cost of this alone isn’t clear. Some folks believe that the cost of the credit is similar to the cost of exempting groceries. Others believe that there is a bigger gap. I personally think that there is a slight gap of about $15 million. Our purpose has always been to prioritize the grocery tax exemption since it is the most regressive tax in the state and specifically concerns food and hunger. Our goal is to start the conversation on how to create a more fair tax system in the state into the future. One thing that we have considered is asking that the legislature pass a grocery tax exemption in 2019, and put into place an interim committee that would inspect the long list of special interest sales tax exemptions that the state currently has. This is just an idea right now, and not approved as a strategy by the grocery tax exemption coalition. The state has approved sales tax exemptions for industry groups for years, and they are never reviewed. So there is a long list of exemptions, many of which may no longer make sense if they are reviewed, and could easily pick up any revenue slack from a grocery tax exemption. If anyone is interested in being on the grocery tax exemption coalition, let Stacy know.
V. Good Food Purchasing Policy
SVI is discussing signing a Good Food Purchasing Policy. Kaz and Lynea asked for copies of the sample policy.
VI. Blaine County Resilience Workshop
Five BCFC members participated. There was an interesting cross-section of people.
Our next regular meeting will be held Wednesday, January 9, at 8:30am.