The Idaho Association of Counties’ (IAC) Annual Conference resumed for the first time since 2019 at the Boise Centre in the heart of downtown from September 27 to September 29. The three-day conference brought county officials from across the state together for an educational and collaborative event that featured hands-on workshops, presentations by subject-matter experts, large general sessions as well as committee, district, and affiliate breakout sessions.
“The opportunities to network, learn and socialize are always highlights of IAC events,” said IAC Immediate Past President Kathy Ackerman. “This year’s Annual Conference did not fall short.”
During the conference, the election and installation ceremony of the new IAC Board of Directors for 2021-2022 took place. Kathy Ackerman, Idaho County Clerk, took her position as Immediate Past President while Chris Goetz, Clearwater County Sheriff, accepted his new role of IAC President. Ada County Coroner Dotti Owens was installed as the First Vice President while Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Vic Pearson was sworn in as Second Vice President.
IAC also held its annual awards presentation where distinguished officials from various affiliate associations were recognized by peers for their dedication and significant contributions to their counties. The Mills-Adler Award is named in honor of two distinguished county elected officials: the late Darwin Mills, Lincoln County Sheriff, and the late Betty Adler, Payette County Treasurer. Both exemplified the qualities all county elected officials strive for.
Recipients of the Mills-Adler Award for 2020 were:
Linda Jones, Lincoln County Assessor
Joe Larsen, Cassia County Clerk
Sid Brown, former Madison County Prosecuting Attorney
Craig Rowland, Bingham County Sheriff
Ellen Masterson, Shoshone County Treasurer
The second distinction presented at the conference was the H. Sydney Duncombe Award, which is IAC’s highest honor given to individuals that have greatly contributed to furthering county government through development and education in Idaho. The award was created in 1988 in honor of the late Dr. H. Sydney Duncombe, who taught and trained numerous county officials in their roles and responsibilities.
The recipient of the H. Sydney Duncombe Award for Excellence in County Government is Alan Dornfest, Idaho State Tax Commission Property Tax Policy Bureau Chief. “Hundreds if not thousands of county elected officials and Idaho citizens have directly benefited from his knowledge, expertise and dedication to sound policy,” said Ackerman, who presented the award to a shocked and humbled Dornfest.
In addition to the ceremonies, the conference’s general sessions and smaller breakout sessions categorized by affiliate associations and population sizes allowed for productive and meaningful conversations on timely issues affecting counties. The in-person event provided an opportunity for counties to heartily discuss and determine which topics needed immediate attention and action. Funding for public defense as well as taxation on tobacco products were thoroughly examined during one impassioned general session.
“Thanks to the many people working toward the success of this event, we can head into the coming year with important insights on legislative issues and renewed connections with our counterparts across the state,” said Ackerman.
The conference also hosted keynote speakers Gov. Brad Little and Doug Griffiths, president and CEO of 13 Ways, Inc. Gov. Little attended Monday’s opening general session and addressed issues directly impacting Idaho counties and their residents, including property taxes, the housing market, COVID-19 vaccination rates and hospital capacity. He commended Idaho counties on their resiliency and reminded officials that the health and safety of their communities needn’t be a political issue. The governor allowed time for questions and comments from attendees.
There were also presentations and updates from Deputy Attorney General Brett DeLange on the nationwide opioid settlement agreements and from Bobby Lawrence, partner at Eide Bailly LLP, on Navigating the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Reporting. These expositions provided county officials with clear guidance and an in-depth look at the current state of these two important topics.
“Meeting in person allowed the membership to have robust debate on IAC’s policy priorities, allowed members to reconnect, and provided a forum for timely training on ARPA and the nationwide opioid settlement,” said IAC Executive Director Seth Grigg.
Fundraising during the conference for the IAC Scholarship Fund was also a notable success thanks to the generosity and participation of county officials. The silent auction raised $1,845 while the live auction raised $1,800. Grab bags purchased at the conference raised $955 for a grand total of $4,600. “We are so pleased with the turnout and grateful to everyone who makes the IAC Scholarship Fund possible,” said IAC Director of Operations Kristin Cundiff. The money raised goes directly toward the IAC Scholarship Fund which awards scholarships to the children of county employees and the children or grandchildren of county officials to help with the rising cost of college tuition.
Additionally, the conference boasted a variety of exhibitors, event sponsors and IAC Corporate Partners like ICRMP and GemPlan, and it allowed time for county officials to connect with these valued vendors. Corporate Partners who chose to exhibit were included in exhibit hall bingo, where conference attendees were eligible to win prizes after blacking out their bingo card by obtaining signatures from those vendor tables.
While most of the days’ lunches and appetizers were catered in the Boise Centre, Tuesday evening’s social and reception was held at the historic Boise Depot, where attendees were greeted with festive décor, buffet-style appetizers, charcuterie boards and a full bar. There was also a guided tour of the bell tower to enjoy views of downtown Boise, Idaho’s Capitol building and the scenic foothills.
Although gathering again for the first time in two years came with some apprehension, precautions were taken, and any doubt was quickly diminished by the overwhelmingly positive response from IAC members and staff.
“It was great to be back in person this year for an excellent conference,” said Grigg. “I can’t wait to see everyone again in February for our Midwinter Legislative Conference.”
To see the full photo album from the conference and download pictures, visit our flickr page.