A HUMBLE MESSAGE FROM DAVE FRAZIER
Now that Gov. Brad Little has signed HB 217 into law, urban renewal abuse SHOULD be restrained. Projects that use urban renewal funds in Idaho would require a vote of the public if more than 51% of the total dollars come from public funds of any type – except federal dollars. The law will take effect on July 1, 2019.
I have spent hundreds of hours and considerable effort to restrain Boise City and other local governments from thumbing their noses at the will of the people for well more than a decade. The merits of ANY project has never been at issue. I only wanted to have the City seek permission from “we the people” for any extended debt.
First it was the proposed police building at 2900 Fairview which was stopped in 4th District Court. The current location saved about $10 million in taxpayer expense.
Then it was the illegal attempt at building a parking structure at the airport without citizen approval. The Idaho Supreme Court stopped that with a ruling in my favor. However, high pressure lobbying from the cities and expenditure of public money resulted in a constitutional amendment which exempts public hospitals and airports from seeking voter approval of debt.
The high priced library project and potential baseball park finally angered enough people that a strong opposition to Mayor Dave Bieter’s Team Dave was generated. Vanishing Boise, Boise Working Together, and strong feelings in the Idaho Legislature all came together to pull back on the urban renewal spending reins. Gov. Brad Little signed his stamp of approval on the bill Tuesday.
Boise City Councilor Scot Ludwig is openly in favor of the stadium proposal. He told the GUARDIAN, “I will need to review the final version that Gov. Little signed to see if that version impacts the stadium project financing. If it does, then the new law needs to be followed.” He was also open to debate the issue if the law did not impact the financing.
Despite reams and reams of news copy and quotes from the mayor’s office, Executive Director of GBAD, Pat Rice, told us there has never been any meetings by his agency on current proposals regarding the use of GBAD funds for a stadium.
My final legal battle came when the Greater Boise Auditorium District wanted to expand the convention center. They spent $750,000 in legal fees to prevent any public approval of their debt plans. The money was laundered through the CCDC which owns the building and rents it back to the GBAD. Citizen approval would have been an easy sale since the funding comes from hotel room taxes, not local sources. Under the new law, they would not be able to complete such a scheme…voter approval would be required.
That funding model was planned for the library project and barring a hurried reckless spending spree and blatant attempt to circumvent the voters, that financing plan will be dead. If the City tries to manipulate a bond sale prior to July 1, the intent will be clear and could mean political suicide for those who espouse a rush to judgement.
BOISE DEV has a detailed story about the bill.
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