Monday, March 14, 2011
WHAT PROPONENTS SAY
..."Urban renewal supporters say that all these criticisms miss the mark. Cities, counties and the state ultimately benefit from the new development — and urban renewal spending — through increased sales and income taxes. (urban renewal districts are deliberately created in areas that would naturally grow without urban renewal agency help. urban renewal becomes a handout to developers who are already reaping huge profit margins on their projects,)
“Urban renewal has been one of the cornerstones of economic development in this state and a proven jobs generator. Look at Twin Falls last year, where an urban renewal project created 700-plus jobs in the depths of the recession,” said Mark Rivers, who developed the BoDo project in Downtown Boise and is working with the Twin Falls urban renewal agency. (again, the projects would have happened with or without urban renewal. the jobs creation numbers came from where? support this with documentation please. Mr. Rivers is passionate about every city from Eugene to Niagra Falls with UR boards and Mayors who can't wait to hand over taxpayer money to him. See letter from Niagar Falls paper on Boise Guardian story.)
Proponents also note that the property tax diversion is temporary. Urban renewal districts use that “incremental” property tax for the 24-year life of the district (although legislators want to change that to 20 years). When the district expires, the gains in value are added to the tax rolls.(a 24 year property tax diversion and putting taxing agencies on a 24 year fixed income that forces higher and higher levy rates on property tax payers who had no say in the formation of the district, the projects and debts is simply wrong)
“Many of Boise’s best projects were made possible through urban renewal, including The Grove Plaza, the Wells Fargo and One Capital Center buildings, BoDo, the 8th Street market, the Basque Block, the Convention Center, and a long list of others,” said CCDC’s Kushlan. (developers bought the property at bargain basement prices, sold it back to CCDC at much inflated prices on the backs of existing property taxpayers who then get to pay for all the pork projects created by CCDC)
Proponents note that mayors and city councils are the elected officials who oversee urban renewal agencies — and do answer to voters. Agency board members often are selected for their business, legal or financial expertise.(agency board members are the "YES" people hand picked by the Mayor and City Councils, It is largely a love-in to think up ways to spend money on projects that would never pass muster with taxpayers via a bond election)
“You don’t want local folks that don’t know much about these transactions on that board,” said Rep. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, who sits on his urban renewal agency board."(what, Mr. Smith..you don't think people who have to pay the bills should serve on a UR board? I guess they just don't understand PORK PROJECTS when they see them.)
THE GUARDIAN finds Mr. Smith's comment particularly galling. We, the people just don't need any sway over the actions of Urban Renewal Boards, they know what is best for all of us stuck with paying off millions and millions in revenue bonding debts created by these agencies. Voting on this by taxpayers is simply wrong in the eyes of Mr. Smith and his ilk.
What started out as seven bills to fix Urban Renewal, put together by citizens who are concerned about the abuses of UR all over Idaho got whittled down to four bills sent to the Idaho Senate. Now we are down to two bills left for consideration and neither give any citizen oversight to debts created by UR agencies. The forces of waste, fraud and abuse are alive and well in the Statehouse. Abuses of our constitutional rights to taxation with representation will continue.
Even Gov. Jerry Brown in California is working to dismantle these abusive agencies. It will take more people understanding just how much taxpayer abuse of property taxes is going on before the Idaho Legislature is prepared to return the right of taxation with representation to cities in Idaho. The legislature will probably be leaving town come the 25th of March.
Posted by Paul Alldredge at 5:13 PM