Some Grist For The Coffee Shop Mill

We offer a round up today of some topics of conversation, bearing in mind the legislative crazy season will soon be upon us. That means the legacy media will do their “one stop shopping” at the Statehouse instead of Bronco Stadium.

–The G-BAD boys will get a report from a consultant on Monday saying it’s a bad idea to demolish the Qwest Arena downtown and build an expanded convention center. They could have read the GUARDIAN comments from readers and saved the cost of the consultant. Check the details in the STATESMAN.

–Reporter Jay Patrick at the IDAHO REPORTER spent some time exploring the issues of the Idaho Land Board competing with the private sector. Patrick’s story is a bit long, left out the tax revenue losses to Boise and Ada County, but it is still worth a read and well done.
The GUARDIAN broke the story of the state owning and operating Affordable Storage on Maple Grove. The revelation touched off a flurry of responses from private businesses as well as legislators who question the practice of government owned business. No doubt it will be address in the upcoming session.

–Urban renewal will probably be on the chopping block this session. The foes–led by a group of Canyon County activists–have put together some proposed legislation predicated upon allowing the public to vote on debt and creation of urban renewal districts. Renewal Districts in Idaho answer to no one–not the public or any elected body. They get property taxes diverted for their unsupervised expenditure and the Canyon group is hot to get that fixed.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. One legislator in Canyon County was heard to say the Chairman of Revenue and Taxation, Dennis Lake is not going to let any of the anti-urban renewal legislation out of committee. As a member of a UR agency he wants to keep the cash and power of spending property tax dollars with no vote of the people just as it is.

    Urban Renewal abuses of taxpayers all over the state and no money for necessary services has brought this to a head and the chopping block this year. We’ll just have to see if this goofy set of laws puts voters back in charge of debt or if we keep the status quo.

    EDITOR NOTE– Shop for a different committee and chair.

  2. Urban Renewal law in Idaho is a mess! The best fix is a total repeal, and a two year moratorium on any more districts.

    The proponents of UR hold it up as the ONLY TOOL cities have for economic development. Truth is they have LID’s, Serial Levy’s, and Bond elections. All of these have the element of some degree of voter oversight on projects and the creation of long term debt.

    The whiners like to have no votes or voter participation in UR projects, boards, debts, or even at their meetings.

    Repeal Title 50 chapter 20 and get back to basics of voter approved debts

  3. It would be nice for Canyon County to get something right over there for a change.

  4. I am perplexed by this downtown “convention center” obsession that a few people seem to have. Anyone that’s ever actually been to a real convention center understands that there is no room on the lots in downtown Boise for such a structure and its parking, unless of course money and condemnation is no obstacle. What is it with these people?

  5. All of the spending of money on new buildings at massive taxpayer expense is the result of shallow thinking on the part of people holding public office. They are obsessed with hanging as much debt as they can on taxpayers. Forget about the fact that none of these ventures begin to pay their way and become another burden for taxpayers to finance and maintain once they get built.

    I have never figured out how we can spend out way to prosperity. G-Bad along with Urban Renewal is the milstone of mismanagment and debt otherwise intellegent people want to believe is free money.

    Urban Renewal is one of the biggest lies out there. It is nothing more than a massive property tax shift to all county residents that get little to no benefit from Urban Renewal PORK PROJECTS. It needs to be repealed in Idaho and we get back to voters approving long term debts they’re asked to finance via tax dollars.

    EDITOR NOTE– It is also an easy way to build public structures without a vote of the citizens AND contrary to the intent of Urban Renewal, these public structures will NEVER yield any tax revenues.

  6. Rod in SE Boise
    Jan 8, 2011, 12:50 pm

    What is it with these people?

    Delusions of grandeur.

  7. The common thread throughout this whole process boils down to “spending other people’s money”!
    Make them personally responsible and the tune would change in a split second!

  8. I have to disagree on the idea that the ideas for urban renewal and convention centers are concieved and pushed by public office holders alone. Many of the cheerleaders own service businesses and hope to reap big profits from conventions.

    Boise is a terrible place for conventions. You can do everything there is to do in the downtown core in a day and a half at most.

    Boise is isolated and expensive to fly in and out.

    Few escort services. No nude dancing. Terrible public transportation to move attendees around.

    No truly great eateries.

    Lousy downtown shopping.

    Anyone who tells you this is a great place to build a convention center wants your tax dollars so they can line their pockets.

  9. The legislative process is a minefield and if any serious change to Title 50 chapter 20 gets done it will be hats off to members of the Idaho Legislature who have had enough of this rip-off of property taxes.

    Urban Renewal abuses all over the state are evidence enough for change, it is political will on the parts of legislators that will make the difference.

  10. Lots of rhetoric here, I suspect some of it may be sock-puppetry. BG you might want to check IP address logs for multiple user names again.

    As always, history is important. Without the context of history most of the comments here aren’t worth the bits and bytes they’re written on.

    1) GBAD was created by the voters of Boise in 1959, by a huge margin. This was right after Harry Morrison had just built and gifted Ann Morrison Park to Boise having spent over $1 million of his own money.

    Part of his vision was build a convention center and performing arts center where the soccer fields are now but the public would have to chip in. The public wanted a convention center but they’d have to pay for it. In true Idaho spirit, the people decided someone else should pay for it.

    2) I have repeatedly pointed out the flaws in the logic that Urban Renewal is a tax shift, yet the same 1 or 2 commenters here continue to post their fallacious arguments.

    I guess they’re practicing the typical far right doctrine of repeat it enough times it’s true and to hell with the facts. Don’t forget to throw in a little appeal-to-emotion about the glory days of pre-demolition eyesores.

    I don’t get it? Why don’t they go after the massive tax shift which is suburban expansion? Is it because they live in the suburbs?

    By many metrics urban renewal has been a success. You may hate downtown, but thousands upon thousands of others love it.

    EDITOR NOTE– regarding G-BAD, it was created when we had NO VENUE. Then we got the “Pavillion,” the Morrison Center, The Fairgrounds, Qwest Arena, and The Idaho Center. Urban renewal changed with Tax Increment Financing and many cities use it in lieu of a citizen-approved bond elections for public buildings.

  11. Mr. cynic,
    If UR is not a tax shift and a program to put taxing authorities who do collect property tax on a fixed income within the UR district, then by all means help me understand where the money comes from. And I would like to know just how essential city and county services get funded as demand grows and taxing authority decreases.

    My view is it is a massive tax shift on all property outside the district to makeup for the shortfall. Further, the shortfalls are made up via higher and higher levy rates on citizens not in the district to pay for city and county services within the district.

    UR is a smoke and mirrors scam.

  12. Paul;

    You can’t just say “massive tax shift” and it magically becomes true.

    What do you mean massive? How much money? Where are your sources?

    My entire property tax bill is about $100 a month. I hardly call that massive. That’s less than my combined utilities expense. Sure I’d like to pay less property tax, but I don’t see eliminating URDs as saving much at all and may end up costing us in the long run.

    It is likely that only a small percentage, if any, of our property tax bills are going to subsidize urban renewal. Unlike you, I admit I have no sources to back up my assertions, but at least I use words such as— likely.

    Regardless, you want to talk massive property tax shift? How about the amount homeowners pay compared to renters? Good thing for us homeowners that renters are too dumb to realize they’re subsidizing homeowners.

    I’ll bet you a dollar to a donut, the homeowner’s exemption shifts more burden onto renters than any URD tax burden shift to you.

  13. Mr. B. Cynic,
    I will offer for your consideration the impact of urban renewal here in Caldwell. Total property taxes collected in Caldwell is about $18MM. CEURA, our beloved UR agency, siphons off $6MM or about 1/3rd of all the property taxes collected in Caldwell. Statewide the take for UR agencies is around $52MM and going up every year.

    Homeowners exemption is also a tax shift but all taxing agencies are not put on a fixed income with a homeowners exemption. I would also remind you renters do not pay property taxes, it is the owners of the property who get to pay property taxes. Rents are market driven and higher taxes can’t be automatically handed off to renters. Renters can simply say I won’t pay anymore rent and move.

    The $6MM taken by CEURA has to be made up to all the various taxing entities and that is done with higher and higher levy rates. Nearly half of the land mass of Caldwell is in the urban renewal district. Legitimate taxing districts can’t get a dime of the “increment” to cover their costs. More schools and other fixed costs for all the new growth inside the district get loaded onto taxpayers outside the district to pay.

    Meanwhile, citizens have no voter oversight on any projects or debt taken on by CEURA. Taxation withou representation is the issue that needs to be resolved. Cities use UR agencies to get around bond elections and voter approvals of debts for PORK projects we don’t need nor asked for in the first place.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: