Bellevue voters chose three out of the four candidates running for City Council seats Tuesday night. The winners will be sworn in during the city's first City Council meeting in early January.
After several years of fast-paced growth and the demands inherent to that, city leaders throughout Idaho will now head into uncertain economic times, and Bellevue approved a fiscal 2009 draft budget that reflects a $100,000 shortfall in revenue projections.
Upgrades to the municipal water system and road repairs are among the services, which were curtailed this year as a result of a lagging economy.
The current council members, Steve Fairbrother, Shaun Mahoney, Tammy Eaton and Chris Koch, began work last year on establishing street and sidewalk standards. All council members, including challenger Brett Gelskey, have expressed support for consolidating Bellevue's fire department with other departments in the valley.
Councilwoman Tammy Eaton, who has served for eight years, has worked with fellow council members and city staff to implement guidelines to accommodate several large annexation requests on the outskirts of the city.
One annexation request remains. The proposed Strayhorn development, northeast of town in Slaughterhouse Canyon, will be before the council in coming weeks. Council members will decide on the amount of development-impact fees and other requirements placed on the developer in exchange for annexation.
Eaton is a big fan of strategic planning in the face of changing times.
"Strategic planning will help the city prioritize the goals and objectives that need to be completed, versus taking the approach of "where do we cut the budget."
Councilmen Chris Koch and Shaun Mahoney have been in Bellevue's City Council for five years each, working to implement many of the infrastructure upgrades in the city, including the water, sewer and streets departments.
"We are finishing up the sewer as we speak," Mahoney said. "We are working on our wells and have identified the needs for our water. In the next two years I hope will be able to start knocking off the check list on that."
Koch said he plans keep listening to the citizens of Bellevue to move the council forward.
"I'd like to attract some new businesses to the city," he said. "Why not some outfitters or bike shops? We have a well-maintained river trail running the length of the city. We are also the last stop before Silver Creek and Magic Reservoir."
Brett Gelskey is running for public office for the first time. He plans to bring to the council experience he gathered while working with disparate groups of backcountry winter sports enthusiasts as president of the Sawtooth Snow Machine Club.
"The scope of my political activities have been recreation and work-related," Gelsky said. "I don't want to change anything in particular. I just want to be involved."
Last November a relatively high voter turnout of 32 percent showed up at the polls (327 out of 1,011 registered voters).
During an election on April 3, 2007, only 7 percent of eligible voters showed up at the polls to vote for three open City Council seats.