More security is coming to Boise City facilities to back up its mask order.
Boise City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday afternoon to approve a one-time cost of $302,095 to fund additional personnel to respond to verbal harassment from visitors and residents who refuse to comply with the city’s mask mandate for city buildings. This funding will fund extra staff support for masking at key locations including city hall, library locations and Idaho Ice World.
A memo accompanying the funding change said city staff has dealt with an increase in harassment from visitors to the facilities, which has impacted employee retention. Boise Police has had to respond to some incidents.
“The city hall lobby ambassador program would manage negative behavior in the City Hall lobby and minimize exposure to other areas,” the memo said. “It will eliminate front-facing staff from having to deal with confrontational visitors. The ambassadors will also serve as an early warning for security threats and immediately respond reducing threat exposure to the city.”
The cost will come from the city’s operating contingency fund set aside in fiscal year 2021 that was rolled over into the current fiscal year. There is also the possibility that the city could use the American Rescue Plan funds to pay for the additional staff cost as well. This would be a one-time cost that will be revisited next year depending on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic.
City Council Member Jimmy Hallyburton said he was happy to vote for the funds to support staff, but was disappointed that they were necessary.
“Our staff members are not the ones who make these policy decisions, but they are forced to suffer the repercussions of people who disagree with them,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that these funds could be used for something so much more important and so much better are being used simply because people are being unkind to each other.”