Fly fishing

Brian Riley | Bonner County Daily Bee


• Profession: Semi-retired business manager

• Party Affiliation: Republican

• Education: 3 years of secondary education, with 20 years of professional experience

• How many years as a resident of Bonner County: 37

• Civil status: Married

• Family: 2 boys

• Hobbies: hunting, shooting, snowmobiling, hiking, fly fishing, archery

• Website: bit.ly/3vrkFCW

  1. Team building with constituents, city and county officials and staff members. The District 3 Commissioner is one of three members of the County Board of Commissioners and there are 18 departments in the county which are managed by the BOCC. Learning about departments and their directors is extremely important based on years of management experience. Currently, each department meets once a month with the BOCC and transparency and trust with the staff will lead to overall success. I also think it’s important to have relationships with members of the community so that when volunteers are needed for working groups or commissions, we have several opposing ideas to mix and choose which way to go.
  2. Infrastructure, budget deficits and housing for the middle class.

Our growth has made all our infrastructures obsolete. Our roads, county services and EMS are currently unable to support our level of countywide growth. To make this situation even more problematic, we are facing a budgetary shortfall due to the high level of inflation which will force the BOCC to take difficult decisions. Our county housing is not meeting the needs, resulting in inflated housing costs. I got a flyer from a local real estate agent stating that the average home now sells for over $600,000 in Bonner County, how affordable is that for the middle class?

  1. This is where business management experience is needed. One thing I’ve learned with my experience is that having task forces assigned to solve our problems leads to success. These groups need volunteers with opposing viewpoints and neutral opinions to really navigate what is needed. Managing budgets for what is really needed and not what is “wanted” for each department will steer the budget in the right direction with “outside the box” thinking. Our county employees are the county’s greatest asset and should be treated as such in our budget reviews. If we don’t have the right team members in the right area, our infrastructure needs will not be properly accounted for our future needs, resulting in budgets that will continue to be under pressure requiring additional withdrawals. We also need to work with local groups such as the Bonner County Economic Development Corporation, for example, and create task forces to develop affordable and desired housing plans for our community.
  2. This cannot be left out when looking at our infrastructure and budget needs. During the construction phase, real estate will not be subject to property tax based on state tax laws; The Commissioners do not have the authority to change this regardless of what has been indicated by others. The commissioners however have a constitutional and statutory responsibility to function as an equalization board and to ensure that uniform market value is assessed if a property owner disagrees with their land value. The BOCC is also responsible for granting or denying property tax exemptions. Essentially, the Impact Fee Review will secure the necessary funding to adjust infrastructure before it is needed or in our current, obsolete phase.
  3. I have seen over the past 10 years that the majority of county residents have been pushing for growth and making Bonner County known to the rest of the world. This has now been accomplished and will take time to peak due to construction delays. Our growth has accelerated due to technology and national changes since 2020. Our direction now needs to change. We need sustainable growth that keeps business and manufacturing jobs available in Bonner County. We need a plan to provide everyone with an affordable opportunity to take advantage of what’s on offer in Bonner County. My assessment is that the current job of a commissioner in Bonner County requires 50-60 hours per week as well as an open mind to make the right decisions for everyone involved.
  4. Growth.

By growth, I lump full-time residents, part-time residents, and tourism into that category, because we’re impacted by all of that. Due to the mixed opinions in our county, not just District 3, I believe a task force is needed to understand the concerns of all parties within our county and then move these recommendations forward. The way forward will also have to follow the state laws that are in place. Our current roads and traffic jams are a prime example of how seasonal growth has a huge impact on our daily lives. Every year we see more and more traffic on every county road due to tourism and we have to build and maintain for that added impact.

  1. The upcoming budget deficit. This should be a concern for everyone! Without sufficient funding, the services we all need cannot continue or improve. As most know, inflation has exceeded 8% and in areas such as paving and fuel, costs have increased by almost 30%. The annual tax increase is capped at 3%; which is a large number based on our assessed land values, which still represents a large increase in monthly rent and mortgage payment. The question therefore comes back to the budget allocation that corresponds to our needs. If we don’t keep our team members happy, we lose our greatest assets, regardless of their profession. I think our residents need our county services which are in place and we need high level management as we move forward.
  2. It’s easy to answer, I’m not a politician. I think being honest is always the best approach even if I don’t have the same opinion of others. I understand the laws, I also understand management and I don’t think it’s fair to give an answer to a question just to get a few extra votes when I know the answer can’t be gotten. I also believe in hearing contradictory opinions because I’m not always right; few politicians admit it.
  3. Do you understand the job of being a Bonner County Commissioner?

Yes I understand. The reason I waited to declare my candidacy is due to the understanding of the commitment and the duties of this position. It shouldn’t be a part-time job or just take up a small part of your daily schedule of activities. Imagine spending your summer months at the equalization board keeping property assessments consistent. Few people understand that the BOCC is this county CEO. Much like a CEO of a company, decisions are made about laws and policies. The BOCC does not make laws. The BOCC issues orders and enforces state laws. There are 18 departments under the BOCC and all of them are essential to our community. Each of these departments sometimes needs leadership and criticism, because holding department heads accountable to their teams and budgets isn’t the glamorous potion of the job. Having a critical mind is essential to succeed in this position.

  1. Critical thinking, management experience, community involvement, understanding that every decision has multiple concerns, and finding the best path for the county. During my tenure as plant superintendent for IFG, we held community meetings to understand our neighbors’ concerns and be transparent; it was the evening. I have served on advisory boards for North Idaho College for several years and was unanimously selected by a very divided board recently to serve on the selection committee for the new NIC president. I coached baseball at Sandpoint at levels such as Little League, High School, and American Legion. I have also served on committees for Priest River Timberday, Winterfest and fireworks events. In conclusion, Bonner County is my home and will stay my home and I consider everyone a neighbor.