City Government

Library Scam Explained

We can’t tell if it was ignorance or deceit, but the daily paper ran a blatantly erroneous story entitled “Developer Envisions Library Blocks” in Friday’s edition.

The short version is BoDo developer Mark Rivers wants to take over six blocks of of our city and include a library– which he will rent back to the city for a mere $2 million annually.

If the city is to ultimately OWN such a project it would be an illegal unconstitutional agreement, based on recent Idaho Supreme Court and 4th District Court rulings. To his credit Mayor Dave Bieter was cautious in his remarks and vowed to perform “due diligence” on how to finance a library.

Bieter and Team Dave lost a bond election for a new library in February. He caught some city councilors off guard when he suggested selling parcels of unused city land to pay for a new library. We have heard nothing on the progress of any city land sales.

The daily claimed Rivers told them his proposed six block development would generate $2 million annually in taxes which would offset the cost of a library. That is simply not true. Improvements within the urban renewal district generate NO REVENUES for the city of Boise. ALL TAXES in the district go to the CCDC (Capital City Development Corp) which is the city urban renewal agency.

CCDC Director Phil Kushlan confirmed for the GUARDIAN any development in the area would yield NO CITY REVENUES for 30 years from the time it is built. He said it is “very premature to offer any comment on the proposal other than, “Isn’t that interesting.”

Either the guy who built the $60 million BoDo project doesn’t understand the tax system where he built or he offered up a false impression to the daily paper. Apparently no one at the daily understands how urban renewal is financed either.

The lengthy cheerleading article was prompted by a legitimate CCDC “request for proposals” to develop an acre of land behind the library at River Street between 8th and 9th. It is currently an old warehouse.

The daily also failed to mention there are at least three proposals being considered at a board meeting next week.

We suspect the front page play, including the word “Library” in the name, architect drawings, and other behind the scenes maneuvers are aimed at getting the nod from the CCDC Board. Perhaps a good sales tactic, but without a legal finance plan it rings of “Voo Doo Economics”. If the City wants a library the proper move is to come to the voters.

Kushlan said the proposal from Mark Rivers is, “Much more grand” than the 1 acre CCDC is offering.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I’ll bet Mark Rivers spoke proper Engilsh but he was misinterpreted by the incompetent local paper.

    I’m fine with him wanting to re-develop 6 blocks or whatever, but why does he feel it necessary to demolish the library and build a new one? It sits on the SE corner of the area he’s talking about. The library building is not falling apart or anything. Why build a new one?

    The bond election that failed earlier this year was about new libraries, not about replacing the existing one.

  2. Good Job!! with sniffing this stuff out………Now if only more than 5 or 6 people would see past their nose and force the govenment to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people”. The biggest threat to America is it’s lacky people.

  3. When I entered the Library in Downtown Vancoover BC a few years back I thought, if only in Boise. Sitting at the Anne Frank Memorial I wonder about the ideas Mark Rivers proposes.

    Technically, CCDC reports to the city so if CCDC is getting the tax money I bet we can work through the details and solve the legalities. The question I ask.. does he have the right plan? I want Boise to be Boise, who are we and what kind of city do we want? I don’t want national retailers near the river. Please don’t put Starbucks in the library lobby. I feel strongly that one non-native Man should not define this area. That said his ideas are bolder than any our local developers have or will put forward by far. Let CCDC guide this with help from the community and give Mark a chance to see where he can go with it.

    I am so sick of water sucking golf courses, farm destroying planned McMansion communities and general real estate greed mongering. Hand it to Mark, he is tackling tough problems in areas that desparately need developed. We need people livin downtown!!!!!!!!! This facilitates the type of good growth we all dream of. Having a library that inspires us on the banks of our River creates hope we can inspire future leaders born and raised here. I support Mark Rivers with this plan, it’s the best idea I’ve heard from a developer in some time. I also appreciate your thoughts as Mark is a developer from out of state and needs to be held accountable. The Statesman is not representing us and generally disappointing in their reporting. What happened to quality investigative reporting. I guess that’s why we have you. I look forward to reading your thoughts, you inspire me to keep my eyes open.

    Dave Krick
    a guy with some restaurants

    EDITOR NOTE–Dave, you’re thinking is right on man! (“Technically the CCDC reports to the city…) BECAUSE CCDC is a city agency, they CANNOT spend our taxmoney without our permission. GUARDIAN says, “sell us on the plan and we will buy it.” It is OUR MONEY, let us order off the menu and don’t bill our credit card for something we don’t want to eat and didn’t order.”

  4. Mark Rivers is a schemer. Simple.

    Guardian makes a DAMN GOOD point about the TIF – and I don’t even LIKE the Guardian.

    I’d love to see that part of my town improved, but not at the benefit of Rivers’ bottom line – and the expense of our tax dollars.

  5. Not commenting on any of the proposals, but in response to Rod: No, the current library building is not falling down, but it is a former warehouse remodeled in the early 1970s and not currently adequate to the needs of a modern library. The old architecture makes it hard to properly wire our PCs– come in sometime and look beneath the work tables– you’ll see bales of wire wrapped up in zipties. Not to mention our ancient HVAC system and elevators– you don’t want to know how many tax dollars are spent yearly just to maintain those. Yes, the building itself is sturdy and even has some historic value, and I do not believe it needs to be razed. But a top-to-bottom remodel would be nice. And yes, the bond was for branches only, there were no funds for the main.

    I will say that my bicycle commute takes me through the development formerly known as the 8th St. Marketplace on a daily basis, and to my mind, it is an architectural, commercial and cultural success. I think Rivers has credibility that CCDC sorely lacks. Their greatest achievements so far have been the urban blight known as the Civic Plaza Apartments, and the tumor-like Grove Hotel/Qwest Arena. Rivers has earned the right to a respectful hearing.

    EDITOR NOTE–Also without comment on any proposal–Why haven’t we citizens ever been told of what you describe and why haven’t we been asked to fund it? The failed bond was for three BRANCH libraries…no mention of main library at all. We ultimately pay for everything the city does. We should have a voice in how and where the public money is spent.

  6. Seems to me Mark River is a contractor and his bottom line is , how much money can I make.. He doesn’t have to live with his developments as we taxpayers do. His idea for the library looks like there would be less parking for a larger building.

    I don’t think many families would be able to afford condos downtown, at the prices that they’d have. I have not been to BODO as yet, because I have a thing about paying to park to frequent the place. I can go to many restaurants and shows where the parking is free and not a hassle.

  7. It all about the money
    Aug 13, 2006, 5:10 pm

    To approach this project with the assumption that tax revenue will offset cost is a favorite shell game of developers and city officials.

    We were promised that all the rentals and shops at the Ada County Courthouse complex would be filled by now too and there would be “lots of income” – – didn’t happen.

    Thank heaven for the High Court telling local governments that they need a 2/3 majority vote to raise our taxes. Can you imagine how many tax increases (on top of our insane property tax increases) we would have seen already?!

    Even today we have governments that want almost BILLION more TAX dollars for a train system to nowhere. We have still another group that wants a $1.7 BILIION TAX increase for schools and then hundreds of millions of TAX dollars for a convention center.

    Thank heaven that our founding fathers created our constitution knowing that we would have out-of-control tax and spend elected officials!

  8. Besides all the points you make, I want to know more about what would be destroyed under this proposal. There’s some room around the current library, but not a lot — and parking is very limited.

    Seems like besides destroying a basically solid — though not up-to-date — building, looks like we’d lose the green space and much of the parking. But what else? Skeptical minds want to know.

    Not quite related, but still on the subject of what our many layers of government get involved with, see the story in The Idaho Spaceman about J.R. Simplot Co. wanting to use the law to destroy some folks’ property and a couple of trout streams so it can build a road to a mine.

    Get ’em, Guardian!

  9. The City already lost in court on using long-term lease-purchase agreements for both the police station and airport parking garage. (Thanks, GUARDIAN!) Not many people know it, but Ada County only managed to win the Courthouse financing lawsuit AFTER one judge – who had given indications he would find AGAINST the County – was DUMPED and replaced so the County could get its approval from a different judge! Sadly, that decision was not appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court or the Courthouse financial boondoggle would have been stopped as well.

    The Ada County Commissioners do not allow questions to be asked at their budget hearings these days, and it’s hard to get answers out of them about anything, but it appears that the County now intends to throw millions of dollars into buying out the vacant commercial space on the Courthouse site.

    Let’s put this all in perspective. The County moved out of the old 54,000 square foot Courthouse, the old 75,000 s.f. County Administrative building, 30,500 s.f. in the Eagles building, and 20,000 s.f. of Traffic Court facilities at Barrister. The 20,000 s.f. at Barrister were then taken over by Ada County Juvenile Court Services and the Sheriff’s Office, so the space wasn’t actually vacated. The bottom line is the County and Courts vacated 179,500 square feet and moved into almost 360,000, nearly twice as many square feet as they’d had for the same services, at the new Courthouse.

    Since then, the Commissioners have also entangled the County in yet another lease-with-option-to-purchase agreement for the Justice Center, at which time they added yet ANOTHER 40,000 square feet. The so-called “Republican” Ada County Commissioners have added over 200,000 square feet of space within less than five years (by going around the voters) and now it appears they plan to add even more, in order to bail out Courthouse developer Steve Semingson of Civic Partners. I thought Republicans were supposed to believe in limited government and lower taxes!

    That CCDC, GBAD, Boise City and Ada County CONTINUE to consider using long-term lease-purchase agreements to get around the constitutional requirement of a vote of the people is utterly amazing. There IS a reason we should be able to vote before our government incurs long-term debt… because we pay the price! The Constitution might be old, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong.

  10. We need MORE detail on the Civic Partners deal? What is going on there?

  11. Good comments Sharon. And don’t forget that the wonderful folks in Eagle have the same strange city hall arrangement. As an old escrow officer who has prepared thousands of Warranty Deeds I still remember the phrase: Lot “whatever” and Block Whatever and “the appurtances thereto.” Meaning, all the stuff built on the Lot and Block. I do not understand how anyone can own a piece of land and not own the stuff built on it. It is not like these properties are mobile homes.

    I think we are being royally messed with by the powers of government.

    Keep up the good work.

  12. Inside City Hall
    Aug 15, 2006, 1:01 pm

    This whole scam got a lot more complicated when it was announced that there is a “competition” for building in the area mentioned.

    The only criteria that the CCDC will use is who (and what design) will get them the highest density and the most money – those two things alone are all that they care about.

  13. Why aren’t these guys being Shanghai’d by the Bush administration and sent over to Baghdad to rebuild that city? They seem to have no aversion to debt. No regards to the constitution. Sounds like loyal Republicans to me. What ever happend to those flip-floppin, tax and spend Democrats?

    Don’t ya love all the new plans they trot out, all include: ground level retail space. Tell me, who is going to rent it and what kind of business can afford the kinds of rent they ask?

  14. Man, what we ought to do is put the whole City Council agenda (and the CCDC agenda, and the ACHD and County Commissioners agenda . . . ) on the Internets every week, and all the Guardian readers can spend all day every day learning the issues, and then we can vote on them ourselves and just scrap the whole republican form of government in favor of a pure democracy! Who’s with me?!??!!!

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