An issue that was discussed in the briefs filed with the Idaho Supreme Court on the Land Board case, but that didn’t come up specifically during the oral arguments in the case today, is that Idaho’s Land Board has charged 2.5 percent of value annually in rents for state endowment-owned cabin sites since 1998, but due to repeated rent freezes, actually charges an effective rate well below that amount. The new plan approved in March would charge 4 percent, but instead of applying that percentage to current values it would apply it to a 10-year rolling average of values, and then would set a five-year phase-in to reach the resulting rent figure.
Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, in legal arguments filed with the court, noted that the rolling average and the phase-in mean that for the next five years, effective rents actually would be 1.8 percent of current market value in 2011; 2 percent in 2012; 2.2 percent in 2013; 2.4 percent in 2014, and 2.6 percent in 2015 - less than the rates the state is charging now, which the Land Board has acknowledged are short of market rents. Several studies commissioned by the Land Board over the years have said market rents would be between 3.5 and 6 percent of current market value, but the board has never set them that high. In 1990, the state abolished conflict auctions for cabin-site leases when they come up for renewal.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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