Idaho Urban Renewal Agencies Remain Unchecked

We figure Urban Renewal reform will be competing with the budget for legislative attention come January and it will be another round of Government vs the People. A Canyon County group is gaining momentum–and lots of facts to dump on the lawmakers and it is not a pretty picture.

Once a city creates an urban renewal district it is without oversight of any kind from any government body. The courts and legislature have proclaimed ALL urban renewal agencies to be “independent bodies, corporate and politic.” The problem with that stance is the use tax money diverted from local government,

Here is a report from the CALDWELL GUARDIAN:

THE COST OF URBAN RENEWAL IN CANYON COUNTY (every property owner in the county gets to pay for urban renewal, even if you don’t live in a defined UR district)

I was recently asked what the cost of Urban Renewal was in Canyon County. The results of the research are as follows:

If you are a taxpayer living in the County and not within the cities of Caldwell, Nampa or Middleton your property taxes per $100,000.00 of assessed value are *$88.41 higher than they would be if Caldwell, Nampa and Middleton were not using your tax dollars for Urban Renewal Projects.

If you live within Caldwell your property taxes per *$100,000.00 of assessed value are $210.14 higher than they would be if Caldwell was not using your tax dollars for Urban Renewal Projects, and when the county share of the 3 districts $88.41 is added the taxes are then $298.55 per $100,000.00

If you live within Nampa your property taxes per $100,000.00 of assessed value are $37.46 higher than they would be if Nampa was not using your tax dollars for Urban Renewal Projects, , and when the county share of the 3 districts $88.41is added the taxes are then $125.87 per $100,000.00

If you live in Middleton your property taxes per $100,000.00 of assessed value are $4.75 higher than they would be if Middleton was not using your tax dollars for Urban Renewal Project, , and when the county share of the 3 districts $88.41 is added the taxes are then $93.16 per $100,000

Total of your taxes paid to Urban Renewal Agencies in Canyon County during 2010 is $9,980,268.13

Average levies for FY 2010 were utilized in determining the tax amounts for the County and the Cities. The exact levy can only be determined by a property analysis, but would vary only slightly.

Sources are the Idaho State Tax Commission and the tax data from the Canyon County Assessors office.

Other egregious events include:

  • Pocatello recently declared the entire airport an urban renewal district which means taxes on all improvements to private structures will go to the airport, not the city.
  • Caldwell urban renewal was investigated by the Attorney General’s office which determined there was no law against funding the YMCA, memberships for the mayor and his family, and $150,000 to big employers to provide a boost to sagging memberships at the Y.
  • Coeur d’Alene gave the urban renewal director a $14,000 boost to his 401K and has gone into the housing business.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Rod in Boise
    Nov 24, 2010, 11:46 am

    Local governments should not be allowed to form such agencies. Local governments have no business being business boosters. Government should take care of consumers, not businesses.

  2. Today’s Idaho Press Tribune has a very good Our View Opinion piece on Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency. Here’s the link


    Urban Renewal law in Idaho allows cities to circumvent voters and bond elections and the abuse is simply wrong.

  3. Caldwell Guardian, how did you arrive at these numbers?

    I’m not arguing that URDs should not have more or better or revamped oversight, but…

    URDs are not necessarily a bad thing. I know nothing of the ones in Canyon County. So let’s discuss the proposed west downtown Boise one.

    I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again. The government, i.e., you, you personally are at least partly responsible for the economic downturn and degradation of Boise’s Fairview/Main corridor. Construction of the Broadway/Chinden connector in the early 90s has benefitted thousands but sadly to the detriment of west downtown.

    Where there used to be car lots, not that I’m a big fan, and other viable businesses, now there are vacant lots. The connector took the traffic away from Fairview/Main and killed the businesses.

    Meanwhile, suburban growth has taken nearly all the tax revenue generated in the north end and west downtown. Look at all the suburban roads that have been widened in the last 15 years. Look at the 2 ParkCenter bridges. Look at the new West Boise City Hall. All the new schools for years have been built in the suburbs.

    All this, and yet, the greater north end area pays more taxes per acre than any similar sized area in the whole county.

    How can you argue that this is fair?

    When will money be spent to improve the Fairview/Main streetscape? Compare Fairview/Main to the new Linder overpass, 5 lanes of Overland all the way out to Ten Mile and the East Parkcenter Bridge.

    I’m waiting for reasonable answers.

    EDITOR NOTE–Cynic, I can’t argue with most of what you say. Our ongoing and collective complaint is that for 24-30 years after they pull the trigger, CCDC gets all the tax revenues on improvements and all those businesses they seek to establish pay NO TAXES to the city, county, ACHD or schools–they pay taxes, but it all goes to CCDC! All those dumpy houses and businesses in the 27th to 29th area will be removed or upgraded and the tax on improvements goes to CCDC. At least out West those properties yield some tax revenues.

    None of us oppose UR, we oppose the way it is run…their staffers make more than the mayor and his staffers. The director was charging his Arid Club dues to CCDC until the GUARDIAN blew the whistle! The same folks who run your city are the ones who created the westward movement sprawl as they annexed and approved every zone change. It was Boise city officials who purchased the 25th/Fairview property, then the 2800 Fairview car lot property, then sold all the 25th land for a hospital that never happened. Those same officials granted a 50 year lease to the rock wall/dog kennel as well. Insanity and bad judgement reign supreme.

    Every step of the way they fought the public and common sense.

  4. Caldwell Guardian
    Nov 24, 2010, 10:18 pm

    Note to boisecynic,

    The numbers came from the Canyon County Assessor’s Office. Nobody really knew what it cost citizens of each city and the county until the good people at the Assessor’s office put this together.

  5. I can remember when Urban Renewal raised it’s nasty head in Boise. I did not pay much attention til I learned that folks that owned property (real and buildings) in Boise were getting UR monies to do what they should have been doing in relation to upkeep. Let John Doe homeowner let their property run down and they are reported or take a loss on a sale. I wonder how many legislators benefit from UR monies. One just has to love government.

  6. The best thing to do with urban renewal money is to hit most of the buildings with a big steel ball, clear the bricks and put the property up for sale and a writedown for new development of projects that will generate taxes.

    These old buildings are not built to seismic standards nor modern codes. Retrofitting them to conform to modern building codes is a very costly undertaking with a questionable payback to the developer.

    I have a real problem with UR money used as a method to circumvent bond elections and pork projects like what went on with the Idaho Center, TVCC, Nampa police building and library. Caldwell is using this money as a $6MM a year slush fund for pork projects and very little, if any, actual renewal of a shabby looking downtown.

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