City Government

Meridian Dream (nightmare) Comes True

Ten years ago the GUARDIAN reported on the potential accounting problems when a developer is allowed to divert Idaho sales tax to personal use. That’s what ITD did at the VILLAGE Mall in Meridian. The developer created his own urban renewal district with sales tax from retailers.

The resulting traffic, growth, and ham-handed accounting are becoming all too common.

Clancy, one of our greenie readers, noted in a recent comment that parking at the Village might not be exactly “free.”
He cited a recent post by Betsy Russell which explained that state sales tax revenues WOULD have been on target, but taxpayers were obligated to payoff debt to the developer of the Village to the tune of $2.7 million.

The snafu points up the folly of using public funds to spur growth at the expense of taxpayers. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could ALL designate where our taxes would be spent!

Comments & Discussion

8 comments for “Meridian Dream (nightmare) Comes True”

  1. Stephen C. Fischer
    Nov 15, 2017, 7:37 pm

    If there is ever a good reason to use public funds for a private project, then it seems to me that the private developer should be required to take on a large measure of the risks associated with the project (e.g. liability for debts) as well as to share a large measure of the profits from the project (at least until the public funds are paid back, but better yet for long afterwards as a way of showing appreciation for the initial public taxpayer funding).
    It seems easy enough: Share the risks, share the profits. If a project is really so wonderful and can’t-miss, then the developer should be agreeable to such a fair arrangement.
    In any case, it seems these types of big projects should go to a public referendum, after vigorous and even debate.

  2. Chuck Thomas
    Nov 15, 2017, 9:07 pm

    During Citizens For Annexation Reform decade long legislative battle to end forced annexations initiated by greedy developers we learned first hand that the majority of seats in Idaho’s local & state governments are either held by those in the real-estate , construction & development industry or have been selected & elected by their lobby cartel.
    During one particular legislative hearing we attended then Meridian Sen./ developer Hal Bunderson tried to get his subdivision outside of Meridian’s impact area moved inside so taxpayers would cover infrastructure costs. Being this blatant conflict of interest violation took place when several citizens were present fellow legislators quickly quieted Sen. Bunderson’s proposal. A Statesman reporter witnessed this atrocity but it went unreported.
    Forced annexation & imminent domain takings laws were established by & for the development industry.
    Idaho’s corrupt political swamp involves both parties equally, our public servants molest taxpayers because they lack the will to enforce accountability & remove the perps from office..

  3. Just Trust us
    Nov 15, 2017, 9:30 pm

    Just trust us they say.

    Developers win, citizens loose politicians have not accountability.

  4. Bieter Begone
    Nov 16, 2017, 6:50 am

    Actually, this allowed Eagle road to be widened long before the state could afford it. This is just paying back the developer under an agreement. The fault lies with the accounting team at the state who failed to properly keep track of the payments.

    And since it was widened years ago, the costs to the state are lower than they would be if the state tried to do it now or in a few years. PS the development would have occurred anyway – this makes it easier for drivers.

    This is what’s known as a win/win except to those who don’t like cars and want the world to use only 19th century technology i.e. Bicycles.

    EDITOR NOTE–We will give you a 40% correct. Under the deal, the developer was able to designate 60% of the sales tax collected from the merchants to his project. That money would have otherwise gone to tyne general fund to be appropriated in a responsible manner as the legislature ALWAYS does.

  5. Bieter Begone
    Nov 16, 2017, 10:05 am

    Good try Dave but you missed the point. The developer expanded the road at his cost up front to be paid back through sales tax. Currently ITD only gets gas tax, registration fees and whatever federal funds they can. Recently the surplus eliminator went in for two years.

    In no universe would eagle Rd have been widened by the state even unto this day. Look at Chinden which is basically a goat track. It will be widened from Locust Grove to Eagle soon after years and years and years of need. But what about the rest?

    Yes indeed the state does a fantastic job of doing not much.

    You hate growth but it’s here and it’s still coming. Increasing congestion doesn’t help. This process did.

    EDITOR NOTE–Like the opiate it is we can “JUST SAY NO” to subsidized growth. The Village created a demand for the road expansion and 60% of sales taxes were diverted away from the public to make the development possible. If the developer wished to pay for the expansion I see no problem. The problem is repaying him with public funds. Without the road there would have been no VILLAGE.

  6. Chuck Thomas
    Nov 16, 2017, 10:54 am

    There are a number of us have spent time attending hearings & have witnessed the massive amount of political corruption in our local & state governments over the past two decades.
    Folks get very angry when development corruption doubles their taxes or lowers their property values but they lack the backbone to unite & remove the perps from office instead of whining.
    If the F-35s are based here the impact will be financially devastating to a huge number of property owners, perhaps then our community will finally grow a spine.

  7. Chuck Thomas
    Nov 16, 2017, 12:09 pm

    The 6.5 million dollar sewer upgrade that Kuna taxpayers got stuck with just prior to the last real-estate crash serves as a classic example of political abuse.
    Idaho’s Forced annexation law allows developers to avoid paying appropriate Impact-fees to fund sewer, police, streets, schools, roads, fire protection, etc. on their private business ventures & forces annexed county property owners to pay their tab.
    This unconstitutional action also violates voting & property rights of county property owners.
    In past years we’ve held debates with members of the lobby cartel in BSU political science classes on impact of Forced Annexation , on no occasion were they able to defend the theft of rights & taxpayer dollars to political science students in the classes.
    Research will also validate that Development Industry lobbyists played a major role in creating the Eminent Domain takings law, a close cousin to Forced Annexation..
    Growth can be a good thing for a community, but only if the community is in favor & will benefit from it.

  8. Isn’t this exactly what Mayor Bieter wants to do with the sport stadium downtown? Bait and switch?
    Even with BSU’s participation, this project would be risky for the taxpayers. Since BSU has pulled out (smart!) there is no way that facility could be financially viable. Publicly funded stadiums have a long track record of costing the public inordinate (and hidden) tax rate hikes and civic headaches. (see Concerned Boise Taxpayers article that lays out how so many other cities have suffered from such ill-conceived boondoggles. (www.concernedboisetaxpayers.com/the-expert)
    No taxation without representation. Who represents me on this back room deal? No one.

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