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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

You Pay For Urban Renewal No Matter Where You Live In Canyon County

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.

EDITOR NOTE:  Here's a link to a great Our View Opinion piece in the IPT today Free YMCA passes for CEURA just look bad


  1. Not understanding your methodology. Please explain.

    How does a district tax get expanded to the county when the district doesn't include the entire county?

    You source tax commission and CC Assessors office but I'm more interested in how you arrived at these numbers. A claim such as this demands an explanation - arithmetically.

    How is Middleton using CEURA money? How are they being assessed for Nampa's UR district?
    How are Caldwell residents being charged for Nampa's urban renewal projects?

    The devil is in the details. You may have a point here. I'd just like to see something other than raw numbers as you present them.
    Call me Missouri (show me state) on this one.

  2. Scott,
    All taxing entities get to remain "revenue neutral" when UR districts are formed. The loss of revenue to these districts is made up via a higher levy rate passed on to all taxpayers in the county and cities to make up for the taxes siphoned off by urban renewal agencies. It creates a massive tax shift that has to be made up. The following link is a tutorial on the Canyon County Assessor's webpage:

    It will walk you through the very questions you have raised. The numbers in the post came directly from the Assessor. Your business property taxes are about 30% higher due to the tax shift created by Caldwell, Nampa and Middleton urban renewal agencies.

    Scott, I hope you find this information helpful.


  3. Scott,

    You should run for office. At least you ask questions.


  4. Fiona says..
    I read the editorial in the Press Tribune and agree. They didn't go far enough and demand the Urban Renewal board members pay back the money they received for YMCA memberships.

    They need to man-up here and pay it all back.

  5. Mr. Aldredge,
    I've read through the circuitous and confusing document that the county has posted that tries to explain the funding formula for urban renewal districts. I still have some questions.

    The UR districts cannot create levy rates, nor can they collect funds on the base value of properties within the district, only on the "increment" value of those properties, i.e. the appreciation that occurs during the lifetime of the UR authorization. SO, what would be helpful is actual knowledge of what that increment number is. How much appreciation has been realized within the county and as such, how much is actually affected by the UR levy. The county admits as much at the very end of their document when they say "Urban renewal districts only levy taxes on increment value. There is only increment value when assessed values increase. If the assessed values of property with in an urban renewal district decrease the district does not receive income."

    With the recent decline in net taxable value of all properties within the county I'd like to know what the increment is at this time. That is the only number that matters here isn't it? What is the difference between the base at the time that CEURA was adopted and now? How much of that appreciation has to do with the fact that the county failed to assess properties for years at a time (I have first hand knowledge of this in being in control of some properties that saw a 50% increase in property taxes in one year because the county hadn't gotten around to re-assessing the properties for almost 5 years)?

    The county also seems to contradict itself when it says "It is possible for levy rates to decrease while an urban renewal district is active, but they will not decrease as much as they would have if an urban renewal district. wasn't in place Urban renewal will never cause the levy rate to decrease during its lifetime." Which is it? Either it is possible for levy rates to decrease while an urban renewal district is active OR urban renewal will NEVER cause the levy rate to decrease during its lifetime. Whomever wrote this piece appears to be suffering from acute schizophrenia - in the same paragraph.

    It seems to me that the county is attempting to point the finger at urban renewal here - perhaps rightfully so. However, one need only to look to the addition of mosquito abatement, and CWI to also account for some of the increase in levy rate. A point ignored in their calculations. Since the UR only adopts the levy rate of their code area our addition of these new taxing districts also has an impact on the cost of urban renewal.

    I've no doubt that property taxes increase. I now see (somewhat) how a UR district can effect properties outside of the UR itself. However, cherry picking a single property that appears to have increased in net taxable value from $1.5 net taxable to $5 million in 2 years is hardly illustrative for most of us.

  6. Hi Scott,
    In Caldwell about $18MM was collected in property taxes. The increment was about 1/3 of the total property taxes collected or $6MM. The $6MM taken by CEURA has to be made up to all the taxing districts in the county as well as the city of Caldwell. Taxing districts outside the UR district remain revenue neutral and get to raise their levy rates for any offsets created by what is siphoned off by UR agencies in the county.

    It takes a while to figure out what is going on and I would be happy to sit down with you and go over the example on the Assessor's webpage.


  7. Scott is living in a dream world. The county has lowered their levy rate for the past three years consistently. Property values have also gone down in this time. So Scott can you answer for us all how our tax bills have somehow gone up in that same time frame? It's not the county and it's not the value of our property either that is causing it. Urban renewal tax shifts, the city's, highway districts and schools are all trying to take more that's why. Wake up sleepy head! Paul's assessment of Urban renewal is right on.

  8. Thank you Paul for your offer.
    I may be hardheaded but I prefer to figure these things out for myself. I'm not a fan of urban renewal as an idea - I am an unabashed fan of at least one of the beneficiaries of urban renewal- the YMCA.

    I'd like for you to clear one thing up for me however. It is stated on this site time and again that the CEURA wasn't voter approved. I thought (perhaps incorrectly) that the initial authorization was actually put to a vote. You've spent a great deal more time on this than I, so I ask, is my understanding on this correct? Was the authorization by vote or by administrative fiat? I'm not asking about voter approval for the actions taken, just the initial creation of the CEURA. Thanks.

  9. So according to Scott if you got to vote a Urban Renewal board in and they decide to go beyond what they were created for and abuse their authority the taxpayers have no right to complain?


  10. Yeah Scott why are we paying for it. Enlighten us please.

  11. To answer a few of the seemingly angry responses posted here.
    If the county dropped levy rates then the CEURA levy rate would have dropped as well. Remember, according to the county explanation of the process (which I don't question although the examples seem a little weighted in one direction) the CEURA can't set levy rates, they are based on an aggregate of the levy rates you vote for, i.e. school levy, mosquito abatement, and those you don't, i.e. county and highway.

    Your tax rates go up regardless of levy rates if the value of your property increases. Fact.
    If the county fails to accurately appraise your property for three years and then in the fourth makes up the difference with a 4 year adjustment of base values your taxes will increase - regardless of levy rate. That is how property taxes work. With the properties we own in Caldwell that is an absolute fact. Our taxes on a couple of properties increased by a dramatic amount in one year because the properties weren't properly assessed in the preceding years. They just never got around to it. We paid lower taxes than we should have for several years but saw a dramatic increase in the year they finally got around to getting it done. That occurred during the CEURA - which made the matter worse because of the incremental taxing structure (CEURA collects money only on the difference between the BASE assessed value at the time of authorization and the appreciated value in each additional year). I don't believe for a moment that the delay in assessment was an example of malfeasance, just a lack of manpower.

    You (and I) can question the appraisal process, and we should. You (and I) can question why the levy rates are increased due to CEURA and the value of the investment that is being made. And we should.

    However to make the statement that " It's not the county and it's not the value of our property either that is causing it" is just plain wrong. The assessment AND the levy rates increase taxes. Both of those lie with the county and the city.

    If your property appreciates, whether accurately or not from an assessment standpoint, your taxes increase. Plain and simple. Without CEURA they would increase less but they'd still increase. The school levy, the county levy, the mosquito abatement levy, the highway district levy, will all take more of your tax money based upon the increased value of the property.

    I'm not pissy about this. If the anonymous posters who choose to be so would like to have a conversation with me about this and "educate" me on the topic - I'll point out that I'm pretty certain you all know where to find me and I'd welcome the discussion.

    Merry Christmas all.

  12. Scott,
    Property taxes can only go up by 3% plus new growth by State Code. The assessements are multiplied by the levy rate as a total to determine the "equalized" taxes.

    Urban Renewal creates a big hole or void in assessed value for the amount they siphon off. All taxing districts remain revenue neutral and can take that 3% already mentioned. The hole created by what is taken by UR is made up via higher levy rates county wide for schools, cities, highway districts, mosquito districts etc.

    Urban Renewal agencies and boards are created by the mayor and city councils, they are not elected nor do they answer to any elected body once they are formed. Taxpayers get no vote or rights of oversight with UR agencies. They can go into bonded debt without any voter approvals.

    The original intent of UR was noble but it has become a way to circumvent voter approved bond elections for large public workds projects property tax payers get to pay for and yet they have no say in how the money gets spent.

    It is and remians taxation without representation. Board members are not elected. Their debts are not voted on like school bonds, or Governement Obligation bonds.


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