Former Burley Mayor files tort claim against the City of Burley

The total cost is $1.5 million and the city paid about $750,000 of that cost.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:01 PM MDT
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BURLEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — A citizen of Burley, who happens to be the former Mayor has filed a tort claim against the city.

In 2021, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints announced that they were going to be building a temple in the City of Burley.

Jon Anderson was on the Burley City Council at the time.

“Not being a member of the church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I was excited that the temple was coming here because I think it makes a tremendous difference in our community,” said Jon Anderson, who is filing the tort claim against the city.

But, as the process continued on the new temple, Anderson says Burley entered into a development agreement with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and other landowners in the area to pay for the cost of extending water and sewer lines to the site of the temple.

The total cost is $1.5 million and the city paid about $750,000 of that cost.

“Before the motion was made to approve it, the councilman who was making the motion asked Mr. Mitton, the city manager - how will this be paid, and Mr. Mitton said well it’s not in the budget, but we have reserves, we’ll have to take reserves of the city in order to pay this, the motion was then made to approve the development agreement,” said Anderson.

Mark Mitton, the City Administrator says the city has owned the property of land where the temple will be built on since the 1980′s.

The land the city owns is more than 70 acres and the temple will take up 10 of those acres, the property as a whole is 700 acres.

“It started to develop out there from the west to the east, and so the city was only one of the parties to the development agreement, and we wouldn’t have been a part of the development agreement at all except we own the largest parcel of property out there,” said Mitton, the city administrator.

The other parties involved are private landowners and developers who plan to build homes on the rest of the property.

Don Chisholm, Jon Anderson’s attorney says another issue is the city never had the appropriate 30 days of competitive bidding for the project, instead making the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints the sole vendor to go through the bidding process for the site.

Mitton says since the city wasn’t the principle in the development agreement, they didn’t have to do the bidding process themselves.

“Normal procedure in development is the developers put in their own infrastructure and the city takes it over, but even with that, we followed the state law, and we did a sole source advertisement saying this is going to be not bid because there is 5 different parties involved and we are only one of them,” said Mitton.

For Anderson, he believes the members of the city council or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints should be held personally liable for the money the city has spent on this project and the faith in credit that they have lent to the other property owners and if not, they will file a suit against the city in the district court.

“We have to give the city 90 days to act on that tort claim, if they don’t act at all at the end of 90 days, we could go ahead and file that suit alleging the things that are on the tort claim,” said Don Chisholm, who is an attorney with Chisholm law office.

Mitton says the city gets tort claim’s filed against them all the time, and the city will benefit from this project in the long-run.

“The tort claim really doesn’t have any resolution, so if they want to do anything more, they will have to file a lawsuit and have the courts decide whether the city was appropriate in the development agreement or not,” said Mitton.