Urban Renewal Agencies Plot State Law Revisions

While most of us are planning for the holidays and trying to finance toys for the kids, urban renewal agencies around the state are plotting legislation that will give them unbridled control of spending public funds for projects that belong under city control–like sewers, transportation, and public buildings.

Their plan to get the state law revised comes at a time when citizen challenges to the authority of this agencies–which are without oversight of any elected body–are being tried in the courts at an increasing rate. It is just a matter of time before their unchecked spending and tax collection gets stopped by the courts.

The GUARDIAN obtained an “executive summary” of a secret meeting held recently by the powerful Boise CCDC and the urban renewal agencies of Caldwell and Nampa. The GUARDIAN asked to attend, but officials claimed the meeting was not an “official board meeting” and the public was not welcome to see and hear their strategy session. (Click MORE for the summary)


Comments & Discussion

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  1. Mike M - Outlaw Urban Districts!!!!
    Dec 5, 2009, 10:23 pm

    The best thing the legislature could do is OUTLAW urban renewal districts.

    These districts have become the key to local governments going around voters, hiding cash, appointing friends and city council members to manipulate agendas and much more.

    It is time to put a STOP to diverting taxes away from local services and stop local officials from thumbing their noses at the voters.

  2. Urban renewal laws are getting abused all over the State of Idaho and voters and property owners are getting the short end of the deal at every turn.

    Elected officials use UR for toys, bells and whistle projects. Developers consider Urban Renewal Property Taxes an entitlement subsidy to their projects. All of it at every property taxpayers expense within cities where they exist. County Commissioners are forced to raise their levy rates to compensate for their loss of revenue due to urban renewal agencies withing the cities.

    The really ironic part is most property taxpayers have no clue how urban renewal districts fleece them. We don’t get the opprotunity to vote on any of the urban renewal projects, they are a dictatorial subset of local elected government and are exempt from the Idaho Constitution.

    It is time for the State Legislature to fix this loophole and put voters back in control of local government. Anything less than including voters in the equation is simply wrong.

    Additionally, to allow UR districts to exist for 20-24 years is also wrong.

  3. I agree with Mike. It is time to do away with these districts.

  4. Is there more information about this? Access to the summary, perhaps? The article’s kind of vague.

    EDITOR NOTE– Whenever we do the legwork and post these things, other news outlets tend to use the info for profit, but we will offer it in the interest of full dissclosure. Please credit CALDWELL and BOISE GUARDIANS.

  5. And while they are plotting to get the laws changed (which I will remind you is exactly the course that you usually suggest if someone disagrees with you), you are plotting your next nuisance lawsuit.

    EDITOR NOTE–Seems the courts disagree with you. When I won the police building case that eventually saved taxpayers $5 million (more like $20 million with interest)
    the court didn’t see that as a nuisance. When the supremes ruled the city violated the constitution in the airport parking garage case that was certainly not a nuisance.
    In fact, given the decline in passengers and revenues there is a chance the airport wouldn’t have been able to pay the bonds under current economic conditions had they built the $29 million structure.

    Can you name a single lawsuit that thinking people would consider a nuisance?

  6. I think many would assert that the law is open to interpretation. That the courts “disagree” with me, causes me no heartburn because I know that given the same evidence, other reasonable and “thinking people” might have found otherwise.

    You did a good job of proving your case…does that mean you were right, not necessarily. Is the “plotting” of urban renewal agencies more sinister, than you “plotting” for their demise or curtailment? I don’t think so, but you seem to get a real sense of satisfaction from ranting about their very existence and railing on just about everything they do.

    Dave you also mention the chance of bond default at the airport. There is also a chance that the Earth will careen into the Sun today. Show me the facts. Show me the models. Show me the studies that prove this would have been a bad investment. I would be surprised if they exist. All I see is a strict constructionist agenda being brought forth in the name of protecting the public. Many of us don’t feel we need your protection.

    EDITOR NOTE– The point being made was that given the downturn in demand for seats, parking, fewer flights, lower revenues, they would have been hard pressed to make payments. May not have defaulted, but other programs would certainly have been forced to do without.

    With regard to CCDC and urban renewal: They are the only agency in all of Idaho that has NO OVERSIGHT of any elected body. Once a city “pulls the trigger” to create a district, taxes are diverted from schools, county, ACHD, and city with no voice of any citizen or elected officials of those agencies. There is no elected body to audit them–court has ruled they are NOT part of the city and the statute says they are not part of the state. Supremes just ruled urban renewal is not “alter ego” of the city, hence even city councilors are seen to be “wearing another hat,” not acting as an elected officer of the city.

  7. The real issue here is cities need to operate the same as your local school district. Schools get big dollar projects approved via a bond election. Cities have abandoned the use of bond elections and are abusing/using Urban Renewal laws to get around voter approvals and oversight.

    Urban renewal laws enacted by the legislature in good faith they would be used for blight removal and economic development in blighted areas has gotten way off the track of their original intention. Somehow the urban renwal crew has come to belive they know what is best for all of us without any voting of big dollar projects. They also like to float debt bonds with no vote of the people as well for all manner of “things”.

    Whatever happened to “they ask and we approve’ the request. It is our property tax money they are spending sans any oversight or approval. I see a problem with this approach and it needs to be fixed by the people who created the mess…..the state legislature.

  8. I am a little confused here…if they are separate from the city after creation, does that mean the city cannot make them go away once creates…They sound like one of Obama’s czars.

    EDITOR NOTE –Supremes say UR agency is NOT part of city, but city can dissolve the agency.
    Legislature needs to fix the law which is a mess.

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