Urban Renewal 6

About 50 county elected officials are present for a meeting on Urban Renewal at the fall Idaho Association of Counties’ Conference. It seems that more and more county officials are unhappy our taxpayers are having to subsidize “urban renewal” within city limits, with no vote and no representation. I am still of the opinion that the tax impact of Urban Renewal Agencies on county taxpayers amounts to taxation without representation and is, therefore, unconstitutional.

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6 thoughts on “Urban Renewal

  • Jeff Souza

    How come you are so eager to wrap the banner of “county residents” around city residents when it comes to urban renewal, but view the groups as mutually exclusive when it comes to court costs? That is, city residents are in fact county residents when it comes to collecting taxes, but are on their own when it comes time to benefit from those taxes. You can’t have it both ways, Commissioner.

  • sharonu Post author

    Jeff ~ You don’t have to look to me for definitions. There is a court order requiring the Cities of Boise, Meridian and Garden City to provide their own court services for city-generated magistrate cases. The order was challenged by the City of Boise but was upheld by all of the Fourth District judges, en banc. That decision was further appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court, which in a unanimous 5-0 decision, upheld the court order as well. To date, Ada County has not been paid for providing those services (costing County taxpayers millions of dollars a year) at all by the cities of Meridian or Garden City, and Boise City has only paid through September of 2009. Please keep in mind that these cities are able to collect revenue generated by these same cases, but County taxpayers (all 400,000) are paying for all of the cities’ court services, including personnel and record-keeping. It is possible the situation will end up, once again, before a judge, who can then issue a finding that the cities are in contempt of court.

  • Jeff Souza

    How quickly you cede the moral high ground of “taxation without representation” in favor of “Nah, nah, nah, hah, nah, nah, I have a court order” (said in annoying, taunting voice) while not addressing the irony of my original observation. You see, as BOTH a city and county resident, I have shared in the burden of funding that beautiful new facility down on Front Street, but am somehow excluded from one of its primary uses because I also happen to live within the boundaries of a city. I can only access that use by paying a second time, in full, through my city taxes. I view that position (or court order) as “taxation without representation”. I guess we can all pick our battles as to where we play the TWOR trump card. On antoher note, I think it is important to point out that in no way, shape, or form does the so often referenced court order give power to the county to use the court system as a profit center or bargaining chip.

    Finally, in getting back to your original post on Urban Renewal, I would relish an opportunity to take about 90 minutes of your time showing you around Garden City’s Urban Renewal District to highight the numerous improvements and accomplishments we have made over the past several years. The point of such a meeting would be to hopefully change your bias of UR as a whole, and to not paint with such broad strokes in the future. There have certainly been abuses within other agencies in the past. However, as a URA Commissioner, I stand proudly behind our accomplishments in Garden City. You can contact me directly or through the Mayor’s office if you choose to take me up on my challenge.

  • Paul

    note to jeff,
    While Urban Renewal Agencies are city entities the tax shift they create (and it is a huge one) impacts all county property taxpayers and taxing districts.

    Money siphoned away from city and county general funds by UR districts has to be made up as all taxing agencies get to remain revenue neutral no matter what happens and they can take a 3% tax increase each year.

    Property taxes where I live would be about 30% lower if Urban Rewnewal in Nampa and Caldwell simply went away tomorrow. It is a license to steal scarce revenue streams from county and city government where UR does not exist with their inherent tax shifts. Canyon County Assessor webpage has a great tutorial on the impacts of UR agencies.