Guest Opinions

With Boise Bench plan, CCDC should fully disclose costs imposed upon taxpayer

The Idaho Statesman’s Aug. 3 article covering the intent of the Capital City Development Corp. to improve the Bench area is misleading.

Funding used in urban renewal is tax increment funding, which is the property taxes from any increase in value within a renewal area, which includes not only new development, but inflated values on existing properties due to increase in value. CCDC leads the reporter or media to the conclusion that, as this is property tax on properties that did not previously exist prior to the formation on an urban renewal district, it is not a cost to the PT payer as your article indicates in the following paragraph: “CCDC is responsible for planning and managing redevelopment in the city’s urban renewal districts. When a district is created, additional revenues from property tax growth that occurs in that district are used to fund its own revitalization projects.”

When an urban renewal district is formed, the existing property tax levy is frozen at the amount of that date, and any increases in property tax are paid to the renewal agency. Unfortunately, these increased values paid are the monies that are due to allow for the payment of services, such as police, sheriff, fire, roads, and administration of both the county and cities within the county. As these increased values require the services that property taxes pay for, and the taxing districts are not receiving the property taxes to pay for them, all of the affected taxing districts increase their budgets to cover the costs. The end result is that the entire cost of renewal is transferred to and paid by increased property taxes to all who pay property taxes in the county.

The property tax an urban renewal area uses is a “direct tax” imposed on the citizens of that city and county even if the cities and counties say it is not. In Ada County from 1995-2014, property tax payers have paid an imposed additional $126,921,000. Some of these expenditures should have been approved by ballot, as required by the Idaho Constitution, not forced as a tax upon the taxpayers.

I have on record the email responses from Ada, Canyon, Minidoka and Kootenai county assessors confirming that the money paid to an urban renewal agency via TIF funding is shifted to and paid by the property tax payers of the city and county where the urban renewal agency is located. Urban renewal agencies count on the complexities of the issue to keep you uninformed.

If these improvements need to be accomplished, the fairest and most equitable method would be to use an local improvement district wherein the owners of the property affected will pay the cost, not the entire county.

It is time for the urban renewal agencies to tell the citizens the truth by full disclosure of the costs they impose upon the taxpayer.

Ronald M. Harriman is chairman of the Tax Accountability Committee of Idaho.

What is the Tax Accountability Committee?

The Tax Accountability Committee, (aka “TAC”) is an Idaho unincorporated non-profit association established pursuant to Chapter 7 of Title 53 of the Idaho Code and organized for the purpose of fostering and promoting the responsible, constitutional, and conservative use of the taxing power by local, state, and national government, and in support of this purpose to engage in study and education, and promote, propose, and challenge the verity of legislation and public policies to these purposes in all venues, including schools, news media, local and state government, administrative agencies, the legislature, and courts of law.