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Downtown Coppers Cost 25% Of Calls

A recent story in the Daily paper about Boise PD creating (recreating) a downtown precinct strikes a revealing cord, not so much about crime, but about financing crime-fighting coppers.

While ALL of the tax revenue on new buildings and appreciated value on existing structures in the downtown area goes to CCDC, folks on the bench and in newly annexed areas will foot the bill for the new police district planned for downtown.

With 25% of police calls for service originating within the downtown area, a disproportionate amount of money to pay for those services comes from the taxes on property outside that downtown area. Sure, restaurants and bars pay some property tax and they contribute to a “vibrant city,” but they suck up a ton of services.

Any way you cut it, downtown Boise costs more to protect and serve than the rest of the city. We would like to see urban renewal go away and let all that valuable property pay its fair share of taxes. (The owners do pay taxes, but the money goes to CCDC, not Boise city)

CWI Project Could Be “Under Water”

In our never ending quest to provide factual information on public issues, the GUARDIAN has posted the following flood plain map from the Corps. of Engineers as it relates to the Bob Rice purchase at White Water and Main in Boise.

Since the College of Western Idaho has agreed to an appraisal of the 10 acre parcel, we have had several experts notify us about recent comparison appraisals. For instance, Ada County Highway District had an appraisal that came back at $12 a square foot for a small piece of the land in question. Another appraisal was done across Main for a single acre that was about $14 per square foot.

The 10 acre parcel in theory should be worth less than the smaller parcels and with the extra expense of dealing with the flood issue, the nearly $20 per square foot price CWI has agreed to pay would appear to be excessive.
outlineFlood Map

Update: CWI To Get Appraisal

In an unscheduled executive meeting Friday, CWI trustees decided that an appraisal was a good idea after all. They still adamantly stand by their original land deal, however.

Here is the complete news release from the CWI Board of Trustees:
CWI will Commission Appraisal on Rice Property

MEDIA ADVISORY – The College of Western Idaho (CWI) Board of Trustees met today (May 8) to address concerns about why CWI did not get an appraisal before entering into an agreement on the property at 3150 W. Main Street in Boise. The Board decided to move forward with an appraisal.

Mary Niland, CWI Board Chair, stated: “Many appraisals are conducted after the agreement is initially signed as part of the purchase process. Our decision to commission an appraisal now, as part of the due diligence period, is consistent with this common approach. We believe the value we have established under the Agreement will stand up as a fair price. Over the past three years we’ve completed an exhaustive search and compared locations, size, access and cost of land in the Boise area. The property at Main and Whitewater Park Blvd. appears to be the best long-term investment specific to serving our students.”

Under the agreement signed by the Rice Family and CWI on April 23, 2015, CWI has 180 days to complete due diligence on the property and can terminate for any reason during the 180-day examination period. In addition, under the agreement CWI can commission surveys, tests, audits, and other reports it deems necessary.

Boise Public Land Deals Have Dubious History

CWI_Logo_FacebookLatest revelation from CWI is the apparent fact they are attempting to pay 35 times more per acre for land in Boise than land they just purchased adjacent to the Nampa campus. They will close next week on 32 acres for less than they are paying for a single acre in Boise.

The recent fiasco over the purchase of 10 acres of land along the Boise River by the College of Western Idaho at more than double the assessed value with no appraisal is nothing new for the area.

Boise’s West End in the area of 25th to Whitewater in the Fairview-Main corridor has a history of bad decisions when it comes to land purchases by government agencies.

The decline of the area came with completion of the “Broadway-Chinden Connector (I-184). When the traffic jams were eliminated, the car dealers moved out to Fairview and Maple Grove.

When the Courthouse on Front Street was built (under a questionable financing scheme itself) critics complained about parking issues. Boise’s urban renewal agency purchased land at 25th and Fairview for a “shuttle parking lot.” The idea was to run shuttles from 25th to and from the courthouse on Front Street. That purchase was illegal because urban renewal funds cannot be used outside the urban renewal district.

City Councilors scrambled around and came up with about $2 million to purchase the land from CCDC. They said it was an ideal spot for a police station. Before they could get started on the police station, the land at 2900 Fairview (former Larry Barnes Chevy) became available. Boise purchased that “ideal” land and planned to use revenues from the sale of the shuttle lot for part of the purchase. They never sold the parking lot.

The court ruled the police station was an illegal purchase without a bond election approved by voters. Boise lost a court trial on that issue.

Then, a few years later the city entered into a complex three way trade with a group of doctors who sought to build a private hospital. Part of the deal included purchase of land in the military reserve for a shooting range, but since it was owned by a couple of coppers, the city laundered the purchase through the doctors because it was illegal to deal with city employees for land purchases.

GUARDIAN editor Dave Frazier questioned the deal, but councilors said they really wanted a private hospital and needed the shooting range. Sure enough, St. Luke’s, the big hospital gorilla, came along and bought out the doctors. St. Luke’s owns most of the land in the area of 25th-27th and Fairview which kept private hospital from happening.

Internal memos at CWI indicate officials there knew a member of the CWI foundation had a conflict of interest with the current purchase since he is attorney of record for the Bob Rice Trust which owns the 10 acres in question. Gregory Byron resigned from the foundation Feb. 4 and the purchase was signed April 1 by his client.

Here is the text: “Greg Byron- spoke on phone, needs to step down off board effective immediately. Again, not for bad. In fact…hopefully for the Best.
Meaning – has a conflict of interest with a piece of property that he represents the client and cannot represent the client and CWI at the same time. The property is in consideration for future CWI master plan. Details TBD.
Please trust and support decision. (Greg did the right thing, and is still big supporter of CWI) Again… more details to follow.”

As we see it today, the cleanest deal to be found would be for the city of Boise to either sell or donate the land at 2900 Fairview to CWI for a fraction of the $8.8 million the school has agreed to pay. The city land is about the same size, has great access and is already off the tax rolls. It is across the street from the CWI parcel which has a 180 day escape clause in the contract.

Somewhere along the line the officials who entered into all these questionable transactions should admit they are wrong and get on with serving the best interests of students and taxpayers. Digging in their heels will only prolong the agony and increase the distrust they have created among the citizens of both the city and the CWI district.

The Boise Guardian

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