The proposed gas-fired electrical generating power plant on Boise City owned land presents some ethical concerns of potential financial conflicts of interest.
The site of the proposed generating facility is on a desert sage covered parcel off Gowen Road near the Outlet Mall. It was originally purchased as an “Industrial Park” site during the Brent Coles’ mayor administration. That scheme included designating the bare desert land as an urban renewal area. It never got off the ground, but the city was stuck with vacant land that did not have a public purpose.
We don’t know who approached whom, but the various city agencies– planning, finance, legal– are all in a position to have potential conflicts of interest because any decision they make regarding Mountain View Power will have a direct impact on city revenues.
Based on public documents, Boise City is basing the lease on a lower than market land value in consideration for future property taxes on the power plant. Sort of like leasing tax exempt city land to a retail store for below market rates because they pay a lot of sales tax.
If the project is killed, the city stands to “lose” lease income of $57,000 annually from Mountain View Power. Boise has established the value of the land at just under $22,000 per acre for purposes of the 25 acre lease. We think that figure is low. For the entire 25 acre site they set the value at Just under $550,000. (Reader comments are welcome on the value.)
The GUARDIAN is concerned about an apparent trend by Boise City to purchase land that is not in the “public purpose” (for an identified use) and turn around and offer long term leases to private businesses.
They did just that with excess city property declared “not in the public purpose” and entered into a 50 year lease for a private rock climbing gym near the connector and 25th Street.
Bottom line is Boise City is setting itself up to be a developer landlord for a private business. It would be no different to develop subdivisions and offer long term leases to people who build houses on TAX EXEMPT REAL ESTATE.
If the Planning and Zoning Commission approves a rezone and the state environmental folks approve the use, the cleanest financial deal is to offer the land for sale to the highest bidder.
We feel it is a mistake for the citizens of Boise to act as bankers for these power speculators.
To insure more advertising-free Boise Guardian news, please consider financial support.