City Government

Airport Seeks Public Financing Of Private Business Facilities

Facilities like this one could be publicly financed tax-exempt property for private business if HJR5 amendment passes.

In a page one Saturday story by reporter Cynthia Sewell, the IDAHO STATESMAN ran a statement by Richard McConnell, Boise Airport’s director, which illustrates the need to oppose HJR5.

“If a company says it wants to lease a cargo facility within the next 12 months for a 20-year period, the city would first have to put the project out to vote, which can only happen in May and November. Only after that, if voters approved the move, could officials secure financing and construct the facility. The 12-month window may have long passed by the time the city completes the process, he said.”

Put more succinctly: The airport is seeking authority to go into debt and enter the commercial real estate leasing business to construct tax-exempt government facilities for private businesses. Schools, cities, counties, highway districts and any other taxing agencies would suffer loss of revenue on any buildings constructed under this plan.

The GUARDIAN welcomes any business–or individual–to our fair city as long as they will pay a decent wage and their fair share of taxes. We simply don’t need to PAY them to come here. Let those states willing to speculate on real estate ventures “attract” those businesses.

The constitutional mandate that airports seek voter approval for debt is a safeguard against government competing with private investors, contractors, and other property owners to finance facilities destined for commercial use.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Dr Spiegelvogel
    Oct 16, 2010, 5:39 pm

    Airport related bonds carry more risk than the 11 city owned power companies or 20 publicly owned hospitals.

    Airport revenues are married to the business cycle. Traffic generated and federal trust fund revenues fall off drastically during a recession, thus possibly putting new enterprises at risk. If the bond issuer goes under, taxpayers might pay or the bond holders would not be paid.
    More info here:

    However, with power and health, demand fluctuations are much less volatile. Almost everyone wants the best health care. Demand is always 100%, with few rare exceptions. Health care costs rose even in the recession.
    And electricity use typically drops only 7 – 11% in a recession.

    Both locally owned hospitals and power companies are under close supervision by elected officials giving voters due influence. Requiring a 2/3 majority to improve medical care or reduce power rates is not a representative democracy process especially for a very low risk bond. The bonds do not raise taxes while the spending will improve health care or keep power costs as low as possible.

    Do more fact checking on airports. Idaho, with the exception of California, is the only state in our area which requires 2/3 vote for airport funding. There is a track record there. How many bonds have gone into default? How many times have taxpayers bailed out a bond?

    Are there real airport bond horror stories or just hypotheticals — like a city building a hotel at an airport.

    EDITOR NOTE–We will post your comment–something the various proponent sites will not allow. Your link above paints a pretty bleak prospect of repaying the airport bonds with fees.

    The hypotheticals are important. Once the vote is lost it can’t be recovered. Do you honestly believe the city should be financing air freight facilities as outlined in the airport director’s hypothetical?…if those are OK, why not newspaper production plants or electronic chip factories or super markets?

  2. Another bad thing will happen if the amendment passes…you will see airports and hospitals “going into all kinds of businesses”. Like owning land with banks on them, hotels, restraunts etc.

    The other HUGE problem is if the city governments get the ability to go into debt for hospitals and airports if there is any shortfall “FEES WILL HAVE TO INCREASE”. The question is WHAT FEES? You will see the most creative accounting and FEE structure ever invented – money being juggled from one account to another…fees not called taxes…and taxes subsidizing fees.

    I worked in Economic Development for several years here in Idaho and there several other ways an airport can get funding from both the State and the Feds to assist with relocating businesses to airports. Plus it only takes 30 days to get a bond vote – if that is what the city wants..but they do not. They do not want a vote – only the ability to enter into debt without the vote.

    Beware voters..if this thing passes you will see hospitals and airports owning and being in debt for all kinds of things you would never associate with an airport or hospital.

  3. This morning’s article singled out “at least two recent incidents” of businesses not locating here because the window of opportunity couldn’t be met with a bond process. In that you guys have proven repeatedly to obfuscate, lie, and hide the truth from the voters, I would require the specifics before I reacted. Names and dates please. What companies? What dates? What property?

  4. Urban Renewal is a huge property tax shift allowing no oversight by taxpayers. Now all the elected officials who can’t participate in the UR ripoff of taxpayers want constitutional amendments to allow them to create even more stuff that will be removed from tax rolls.

    We are not in a constitutional crisis and I will be voting No. Simply because when you get right down to it taxpayers need more oversight of elected officials NOT LESS.

    Any fool can spend other people’s money in an irresponsible manner and say “OOPS! Sorry folks we made a mistake and you still get to pay up.”

    Take a good look at what has happened in Canyon County with Urban Renewal abuses, the County Prosecutors fiasco. Letting elected officials off the hook from any voter oversight is just bad public policy.

    Vote NO! and retain your rights.

  5. Chris Mitchell
    Oct 18, 2010, 8:33 am

    Cyclops, one of the businesses was Horizon Air. They wanted to build a maintanance facility but decided to go to either Spokane or Salt Lake City. I don’t know the other example.

    EDITOR NOTE–Chris, what would preclude HORIZON from building the facility here? If they wanted BOI to build it for them as a tax-exempt government facility and rent it back I could understand going where ever they could get the freebie. Voters have nothing to do with BOI leasing bare ground for someone to build upon at their expense and risk.

  6. Paul;

    I don’t know why you went off on urban renewal because it has nothing to do with the airport and hospital bond financing proposals.

    But since you brought it up—maybe you’re right, urban renewal is a tax shift. A tax shift to bring back money paid by downtowners to be spent downtown instead of being spent on suburbs like it’s been for 50+ years now. New schools, new parks, widened roads, new fire stations and a new city hall west, this is where our tax money is going.

    You want to talk about ripoff? When is the last time any substantial money was spent in the greater downtown area not within an urban renewal district? Nearly all tax revenue generated for decades has gone to suburban infrastructure.

    You want to talk oversight? When’s the last time you did any overseeing?

    Downtown Boise faces problems no other part of town does. The traffic alone, thousands flowing in daily from the suburbs is a huge problem. Few want to live near a busy road. So how will the Fairview/Main corridor every be redeveloped?

  7. Veritas Aequitas
    Oct 18, 2010, 8:53 am

    I myself will be voting against 2 of the three amendments. I will be ** considering***voting for the hospital one as I see these small community critical access hospitals struggling with facilities and other issues on a daily basis. People DEPEND on these rural government owned hospitals/clinics in rural Idaho for basic health care needs. So I remain undecided on the third.

    I am concerned that voting for the hospitals one will lead to all sorts of other “vital public services” trying to get similar language passed for their functions. Services like ambulance , highway, and fire districts. Especially fire districts.

    That said, I never saw an airport or a city hall that saved someones life. They can bite my …… votors ballot.

  8. The Fairview Main corridor can and should be developed via people/developers who do not have their hands out for “entitlement” money from taxpayers.

    The whole Urban Renwal scam forces every taxpayer in Ada County to pay for downtown redevelopment because of the taxes not collected for the county and city general funds (along with other agencies who levy taxes). They have to make up the revenue with higher taxes for everyone not in the district.

    UR agencies also create a false impression of higher values for junk property that needs to be demolished. A project should stand on its own merits for the potential to generate a profit for investors. Owners of junk propety withing the districts reap a windfall all county and city taxpayers end up paying.

  9. Chris – Horizon Air (Alaska Airlines) has never realy considered Boise.

    I have personal first hand knowledge that several economic development agencies have stated that Horizon “wants to come to Boise” for years…as far back as 1985.

    And there is nothing that has stopped the City of Boise or the State of Idaho from getting all the resources for Horizon – if they wanted to come…but they do not.

    Please tell all you know to vote NO on all the amendments.

  10. Paul;

    Please give me an exact accounting of how much extra property tax you’re paying due to existence of the urban renewal districts.

    Didn’t your teachers in junior high ever demand of you to show your work?

    I have done my homework. I have gone through Ada County assessor’s records and compared taxes per sq ft among my property and others in the neighborhood. I’m not in a URD. The junk properties such as Goodman Oil and Bob Rice Ford are paying less per sq ft annually than me and probably you. No that’s a certainty. This is on top of the fact that those two properties have river frontage and higher allowed zoning uses.

    The junk properties are already not paying their fair share. We are making up the difference because our properties are better kept and utilized. I like to call it the eyesore exemption. Keep an eyesore, get a tax break!

    History is full of government kick starting development. The three dams on the Boise River system. Where would the farmers be without those? Paved roads, ’nuff said there. River levees.

    Furthermore, the government itself, i.e. you the taxpayer, is directly responsible for the decline of the Fairview/Main corridor. The completion of the Broadway/Chinden connector in 1992 directly lead to the decline. Simply put, we the taxpayers need to finish an incomplete job.

  11. One more thing. Look at roads alone.

    Almost all the infrastructure is already in place in the Fairview/Main corridor. Roads, power, water, sewer and parks all in place. (Except Esther Simplot Park and that will probably be built with private donations)

    New development in the suburbs requires expensive new roads. Just look at Eagle Road, Chinden past Glenwood and I-84. Yeah, I-84 widening from Vista all the way to Caldwell. How much is that costing? How about that multi-million dollar Ten Mile Interchange. Overland is now 5 lanes all the way to Ten Mile even though it’s mostly vacant land.

    I argue that it’s cheaper to provide an Urban Renewal District than it is to supply suburban infrastructure from scratch.

    EDITOR NOTE–You guys are both off topic!! Please stay on AIRPORTS…we will have plenty of urban renewal in the near future.

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