More Bad News For Urban Renewal

Urban renewal districts statewide are coming under fire from many quarters as they work to subvert the will of the citizens and go around the election process mandated in the Idaho Constitution when it comes to long term debt.

  • In Coeur d’Alene a group is pushing for legislation to enforce a 10% limitation on the value of property  that can qualify for tax diversion from local cities, counties, school districts, etc.  These URDs get the taxes normally destined for the other districts, but state law limits districts to 10% of the assessed value in a city.  The question arises when new construction within a URD exceeds the 10% limit.
  • Rexburg resident Ken Hart has a case pending in the Idaho Supreme Court challenging the urban renewal district’s claim that long term debt by URDs is exempt from the Idaho Constitution.  Cities and URDs statewide have used tax money to file “friend of the court” briefs to prevent citizens from having a voice in long term debt.
  • The Ada Commishes are battling Boise’s CCDC over a convoluted funding scheme for a parking facility next to the Court House.  That should come to a head on April 13 at a noon meeting between the two groups.

Then along comes state  Rep. Robert Schaefer (R) from Nampa, described as a long time conservative.   He said this in his latest “legislative update.”

I have been critical of urban renewal districts for some time, so it should come as no surprise that I am supporting legislation to bring more accountability to those agencies.

The bill calls for oversight by the State Tax Commission and establishes certain guidelines for raising revenues. These changes are long overdue.

Regardless of intentions, the bottom line with urban renewal is money…specifically property tax dollars. That money is the only property tax revenue in Idaho that is spent by an unelected board not directly accountable to the public.

While the intent of the law is to promote economic development and fight blight, the current law opens the door to questionable practices and overt abuse.

There is room for a new law that promotes transparency withing bodies that can spend money freely and without input from the public.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Long, Long, Overdue.
    Mar 25, 2009, 6:38 am

    YO! Bobbie! You rule, dude!

    Ger it Passed.

  2. Mike Murphy
    Mar 25, 2009, 8:20 am

    “Efficiency, transparency and control with absorption of the various components of Boise’s Shadow Government into City Government”

    I hope there are many faces at the CCDC Meeting at Noon on April 13th.

  3. Don’t forget that CCDC’s Board is appointed by Team Dave ( It will be interesting to see if Boise’s two city councilmembers (both of whom are flippant blowhards) who also sit on the CCDC board will attend the April 13 meeting. They tend to lie low and point fingers at CCDC from the council chambers when things don’t go as planned.

  4. As long as people perceive urban renewal as “free money”, a myth perpetuated by dishonenest people in government nothing will happen.

    If people took the time to understand the “hair cut” they are getting from urban renewal they would be more than an little bit angry and upset. Until then the sheep continue happily walking to the kill floor.

  5. That would be HB244 which the House just finished amending the bill and removed everything except a very small change which in short says if the Urban Renewal changes its boundaries, through annexation, it can’t extend it term of existence.

  6. Wow, somebody actually trying to be honest?
    He won’t last.

  7. Guardian and it’s flock of parrots with the tin foil hat conspiracy BS, make me sick. You suburban and farm country (read hicks) folks have been getting subsidized by us urban folk for years, no decades. Where has all the money gone that I pay to ACHD? Not in my downtown neighborhood, except for maintenance nary a dime has been spent. Now go look at southeast Boise and West Boise, holy crap, millions have been spent.

    You should be proud of downtown and quit begrudging the desire to make it better. What’s the alternative? A complete ghetto like Compton or Trenton? The other alternative is downtown Boise and the north end should secede from the rest of Boise. We’re sick of subsidizing you!

  8. Tin Foil Hats!? Don’t be absurd!

    Everyone knows that only LEAD Foil Hats protect you from the Thought Police.

    Sure, there’s that whole lead poisoning thing; but I’m pretty certain that that’s all been made up by the Illuminati. Or was it the Communists?

    ; )

  9. In Minnesota we call this TIF (tax increment financing). We don’t do any urban renewal here. We’ve got a Republican governor, don’t you know. Thinking about the Red River flooding, I was thinking of other cities besides Fargo and Moorhead that rest in a fløod plain. What’s the Boise Valley situation regarding flooding? I remember sandbaging when I was an Idaho Statesman reporter in the mid-60s.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: