Tracking code caldwell guardian

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How Much Area Does CEURA Encompass?

THE GUARDIAN put an eyeball to the official map of  Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency and called it about 50% of the total area of Caldwell.  Our local paper, THE PRESS TRIBUNE ran a guest opinion written by THE GUARDIAN this past week about the "Magic of Urban Renewal".  We were asked to supply facts and references for things stated in our guest opinion prior to getting the opinion published.

Mayor Nancolas called into question the land area and cited it at no more than 1.6 square miles or 10% of our fair city as required by Idaho Code. We would offer that the total property taxes collected in Caldwell amount to about $18MM with CEURA taking about $6MM every year right off the top of property taxes to fund all the magical goodies cited by Mayor Nancolas in his state of the city address earlier this month. 

The Idaho Press Tribune put a correction notice on the front page stating Mayor Nancolas' issue with our statement about the land area of CEURA.  We are offering the above photo of the CEURA map as posted on the CCEDC website.  Here's a link to the official map Caldwell Urban Renewal Map .  We encourage you to judge for yourself just how much of the city is taken in by CEURA. 

We stand by our original statement of about 50% of Caldwell in the urban renweal district.  You can use the color legend at the bottom of the officidal  map to help in your assessment of who is closest on this estimation of our magical urban renewal district. The goldenrod and green areas of the map are in the urban renewal district of Caldwell.

We would also hope the good people at the IPT will hold Mayor Nancolas to the same standars of backing up his statements with facts.  To that end we offer the following from Idaho Code 50-2903(15).  It clearly states Urban Renewal Districts can take no more than 10% of the BASE ASSESSED VALUATION in the year the agency is formed:

(15) "Revenue allocation area" means that portion of an urban renewal area or competitively disadvantaged border community area the equalized assessed valuation (as shown by the taxable property assessment rolls) of which the local governing body has determined, on and as a part of an urban renewal plan, is likely to increase as a result of the initiation of an urban renewal project or competitively disadvantaged border community area. The base assessment roll or rolls of revenue allocation area or areas shall not exceed at any time ten percent (10%) of the current assessed valuation of all taxable property within the municipality

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mayor Dale Questioned on Party Expenses

Today, we received the below letter from our friend Hubert Osborne of Nampa.  He is questioning public tax dollars used to fund a Christmas party booze, a hotel room for department heads "retreat" and money for the Mayor's High Street Band:

Mayor Dale,
     I am writing to question expenditures which have been paid by the city of Nampa:

Invoice # 5108-120310 Liquor for Christmas Party pd. 12/31/2010 $247.31

Invoice #14862 Department Head Retreat pd. 12/31/2010 $280.75

Invoice # 642007646 supplies for High Street pd 12/31/2010 $123.89

There are a number of other expenditures which I think could be questioned but I will wait for your response on the above items.

Perhaps you would like to refer to the legal opinion #78-44 by the Attorney Generals office which says "Without express authority,a municipal corporation may not appropriate the public revenue for celebrations,entertainments,sports and games etc. Such power can not be implied"

It would be my wish that these moneys be repaid to the city of Nampa.

Hubert Osborne

Mayor Dale offers this response:


     Thanks for the note. Regarding the expenditures you list, the Civic Center would be able to answer the questions about the liquor and the supplies for High Street. I can assure you the city does not, and did not purchase liquor in any form for any party. As to this bill, you would need to get specifics from the Civic Center. Regarding the bill for High Street supplies, I’m sure that would be related to the New Year’s Eve party event held at the Civic Center and was paid for from the proceeds of the paying attendants to the event. Again, the Civic Center can answer those questions.

     Regarding the Department Head Retreat, this expenditure was related to an all day intense working retreat for strategic planning purposes by the management team for the city and not in any way related to entertainment, celebration, sports, or games in any fashion.

     Thank you for your continued interest in making our city a better place.

Tom Dale

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fair to Move Out of Caldwell

A meeting was held last night to discuss the future vision of the Canyon County Fair at the new 80 acre site in Nampa.

 Mrs. Guardian attended the meeting along with former County Commish Glenn Koch, City Councilors Rob Hopper and Dennis Callsen and about 15 other folks interested in the future of the County Fair.

Mr. Koch and Mrs. Guardian wanted to know why the Fair was leaving Caldwell.  Tim Lowber, Chairman of the Fair Board, stated the Fair had outgrown its current address nearly 20 years ago. In their quest to expand and improve the fairgrounds in its present location they tried to no avail to work with the city of Caldwell.  At one point in time the Urban Renewal Agency offered up land near the north end of the Caldwell Airport near Sky Ranch along with funds from the Urban Renewal Agency.  Fair Board members were excited to be able to stay in Caldwell and for the funding offered. The happiness and joy of the Fair Board was short lived when the Urban Renewal Agency pulled the funding for a "better use".

The Fair Board is on a 5-10 year timeline to develop the new site.  They are hoping to get some "FAT CAT" donations, grants and possibly a bond election passed along with some help from the city of Nampa to get city services out to the new 81 acre site.  THINK ARCHITECTURE and KEEFER/OVERTON ASSOCIATES have been consulted to help develop a plan for the project along with projected costs to make the new County Fair site a reality.

Mayor Nancolas' credibility on having 'no knowledge of the County Fair moving out of Caldwell' was called into question at this meeting. The difficulty of trying to work with the city along with rescinding of Urban Renewal funds forced the hand of Fair Board members to leave Caldwell.

Additionally, it was brought out that in 1990 Mr. Koch and a group of generous citizens put up the money to purchase the property behind and adjacent to the current fair grounds giving the fair room to expand.  The city of Caldwell bungled the property gift of over 19 acres by putting in a meandering road and baseball fields.  The good people who put up $1,000.00 each for the Fair to grow in place feel their good and generous gift to the Canyon County Fair was mishandled by city leaders.

The Fair leaving Caldwell is just one more example of ineptitude and how difficult it is to do business in Caldwell and just how content folks are to listen to but not challenge Mayor Nancolas on his swell words to all of us each year in his State of the City address. A more appropriate catch phrase might  be the BLACK Magic of Urban Renewal.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The "MAGIC OF URBAN RENEWAL" = Property Taxation Sleight of Hand

Mayor Nancolas in this year's 2011 State of the City address spoke about the "MAGIC OF URBAN RENEWAL".  We requested a copy of the Mayor's speech and were amazed at the superlatives selected by Mayor Nancolas to inform us about all the MAGIC inherent in urban renewal.

The reality of urban renewal is what Mayor Nancolas failed to tell us in his address.  Urban renewal in Caldwell costs every Canyon County property taxpayer an additional $88.41 per $100k of assessed value; each Caldwell property taxpayer an additional $298.55 per $100k of taxable value.  There is NO MAGIC OF URBAN RENEWAL.  It is a massive property tax shift most people do not understand.

Mayor Nancolas showcased a number of projects he stated that would not have happened except for the MAGIC OF URBAN RENEWAL: the YMCA, $23.6MM in sewer upgrades, some minor support to Caldwell and Vallivue School Districts (they gave up millions in tax revenue to urban renewal), a skate board and BMX park (most kids can't get to due to the location), the Job Service building in Sky Ranch (should have gone downtown), a $6-9MM building and grounds for out of state TVCC (the city purchased with rainy day funds for water, sewer, cemetery funds on deposit with the State Treasurer).
(You can read about all of the magical projects when the Mayor's speech is posted online, urban renewal discussions start on page 7.)

The point we would like to make is all of the property taxes diverted from nearly 50% of the land mass of the city of Caldwell go directly to Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency.  It has amounted to over $6MM a year getting spent on all manner of things with no voter oversight.  Your property taxes are 30% higher due to the MAGIC OF URBAN RENEWAL. Taxes in Caldwell went up nearly 3% this year and in Nampa they went up 5% due to the MAGIC.

Urban Renewal districts put other taxing districts and agencies on a 24 year fixed income and they have no other choice to deal with the increased growth in demand for essential city and county services and have to increase their budget driven levy rates.  THE MAGIC IS higher property taxes to offset what urban renewal agencies legally steal from property owners and taxing districts that supply essential city and county services.

The proper funding mechanism for all the wonderful stuff Mayor Nancolas talks about in his support of the massive tax shift of urban renewal is BOND ELECTIONS and consensus building for community support of the projects.  People get the opportunity to either approve or not approve projects with the full faith and credit of taxpayers.  Urban Renewal strips people of their right of taxation with representation.

Mayor Nancolas did not address a single instance of the outright giveaways of urban renewal funds for YMCA memberships for himself, his family, UR board members, the $150k in YMCA memberships for wellness program subsidies for private citizens, handouts to developers as "entitlement money".

The MAGIC OF URBAN RENEWAL is nothing more than 3-card Monte with property tax dollars shifted to a body politic with no voter oversight or citizen reviews of any kind.  Citizens who do take the time to complain are quickly marginalized and ignored by Mayor Nancolas and his Urban Renewal Board members.  We would offer the coffee shop in the TVCC building as an example of this behavior.  Citizens were heard and propmtly ignored when they took the time to attend a CEURA meeting regarding the coffee shop funding of a business in direct competetion with their businesses.

Final note: The IPT had an online poll this week asking if Caldwell is headed in the right direction.  Oddly, the results indicated 68% of poll respondents said NO and 32% said Yes the city is headed in the right direction.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mayor Should Publish Specific Dollar Amounts

The following letter was written as a letter to the editor in today's IPT by Chuck Stadick of Caldwell.  We are reprinting his letter by permission for your review and comment:

"In regards to Caldwell Mayor Garrett Nancolas' comment in the Dec. 31 paper about a $17 parking ticket he got which the city of Caldwell paid for-  "All this over 17 bucks?"

If you want taxpayers to take you seriously and give you credit for returning hundred and hundreds of bucks turned back to the city for per diem pay, please publish those figures, please publish the amounts you and your personal elected board of urban renewal folks spend on projects we the taxpayers have no vote on whatsoever.

Let's not be phony but transparent and honest about everything.

We the taxpayers will be patiently waiting for those figures to be published on both the urban renewal expenditures and your credits.  The last five years would be ample for both."
  • Chuck Stadick, Caldwell

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Security Checkpoints Like Finding Needle In Haystack

Most of us by now have had to endure a security checkpoint along with all the trials and tribulations of dealing with these check points  in our daily lives.  We unwillingly put up with this invasion of our personal space in the spirit of "Safety" but the amount of effort put out yields very little in the way of safety.  You can go online to sites that sell all the contraband pocket knives, tools, fingernail clippers, scissors and other assorted and sundry items taken away from people at these check points.

On one of my fishing trips to Mexico in years past I got the pleasure of having to dig through my luggage to remove a small butane lighter from my fishing tackle box.  Mind you, this was not carry on but in baggage I was checking in on the return leg of my flight to Loretto, Mx.

The problem with security checks is they are engaged in looking for a needle in a giant haystack and the efforts are largely a waste of every one's time and resources spent looking for objects that for the most part are not a threat to anyone.

We read with interest a few days back about the latest comments in the local paper from Commissioner Steve Rule about Courthouse Security.  He is looking to put more people through the main entrance of the courthouse.  His reference was they are looking at taking away card lock passes carried by most employees.  The decision to stop giving employees the full meal deal at the front door cleared up a lot of congestion and now they're looking at taking a giant step backward.

The challenge should be trying to make the haystack smaller to increase the odds of finding problems but Comm. Rule is thinks making the haystack bigger will increase safety and the odds of finding some contraband items employees may be carrying in on a daily basis.  The events of this past weekend will only serve to increase the anxiety over safety issues at our courthouse. 

Of course the reality is the general population is sort of like IVORY Soap 99.46% of the population is not a problem.  It is the 0.54% we have to worry about and have to inconvenience everyone to get to that elusive 0.54% or less who would do us all harm if given the chance.

Meanwhile, we all continue to be herded like livestock through the TSA and various other "Safety" check points that do little but inconvenience everyone.  People paying attention to what is going on around them and reacting in an appropriate manner is the best security system we can all hope and pray for in a world under constant threat of something bad happening.

Tax Exempt Property Competing With Taxed Property

The Idaho Land Board recently purchased a storage business in Boise for $2.7MM of taxpayer money.  They intend to operate the place in direct competition with business owners who are stuck paying all the taxes government can apply.  Meanwhile, government owned real estate gets to operate via a total exemption for taxation.  The Land Board has made no secret they intend to purchase more commercial property and go into direct competition with private operators.  The LB purchase has caused all manner of consternation with the general public and business owners across the State of Idaho.

Here in Canyon County we have a similar situation that has gone on unchecked for a long time via Urban Renewal Agencies of Nampa and Caldwell buying commercial property and renting it out for profit in direct competition with other commercial property owners. Heretofore Urban Renewal agencies got to enjoy PROPERTY TAX EXEMPT STATUS on their rented and leased properties. 

Several weeks ago THE GUARDIAN was doing research on Urban Renewal Laws of Idaho (Title 50 chap.20) and found Idaho Code 50-2014 and the last couple of lines read:
"Provided, that such tax exemption shall terminate when the agency sells, leases or otherwise disposes of such property in an urban renewal area for redevelopment to a purchaser or lessee which is not a public body entitled to tax exemption with respect to such property."

THE GUARDIAN brought this Idhao Code Section to the attention of the good people at the Canyon County Assessors office. We are pleased to learn a number of parcels in Caldwell and Nampa have been returned to county property tax sub-rolls and a demand for payment of back property taxes on parcels owned by Urban Renewal Agencies currently rented out for other than direct public uses.

We  offer this section of the Idaho Code as a solution to the concerns of business owners and operators  worried about future Land Board purchases of commercial property.  A legislative change in Idaho Code stating that once the property is not used for a direct public use it loses any and all tax exemptions and goes on the tax rolls makes for a more equal footing for all concerned
Government should not be in direct competition with private business.  They can give themselves an unfair advantage via tax exempt status.  Removal of all TAX EXEMPTIONS  is the GREAT EQUALIZER should the Land Board and Urban Renewal Agencies continue down the path of buying more commercial/retail property.