Three years ago when the GUARDIAN exposed the state ownership of Affordable Storage in Boise, politicos dug in their heels on both sides of the state owning businesses.
We pointed out at the time there was a significant loss of local property taxes when commercial property is owned by the tax-exempt state. Since then, the Land Board–which wears several hats–has adopted a policy of owning commercial rental property and operating a business in the case of the Affordable Storage venture on behalf of the Education Endowment Fund.
Their basis is a “mandate to get the best return possible for education. In other words, “we do it for the children.”
Some current and former legislators and other watchdogs have cried foul of late. Seems rental properties in Idaho Falls and Nampa have conveniently been appraised for the same value as state-owned cabin lease properties at McCall and Priest Lake. They tried to engineer straight across trades–which are permitted by law–rather than go the route of declaring the cabin sites as surplus and selling to the highest bidder. The result claimed by some is possible insider trading with too much property being taken off the tax rolls.
The Board and staffers are blinded by potential “quick profits” from rental property which returns immediate cash. On the flip side is the state owned land is arguably being traded away below market value for properties which are arguably worth less than the appraisals. Sort of like trading straight across with a used taxi for classic Rolls Royce. The taxi makes more cash on a daily basis, but the Rolls is probably worth more in the end.
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