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Land Board poised for cabin decision…

Secretary of State Ben Ysursa has moved to adopt the subcommittee's recommendation - rents for state-owned cabin sites on endowment land to be set at 4 percent of the average value over the past 10 years, phased in over a five-year period, plus a premium rent of either 10 percent of gross leasehold value or 50 percent of net, whichever is better for the state. The result would be rent increases of an average of 9 percent a year for the next five years, or about 54 percent total over that time period, he said. Still, he said, the state won't be collecting full market-rate rents as the state constitution mandates. "Why aren't we at current? We, everybody on this board, has voted for a freeze at least one time, some of us two times. We are complicit in the problem that we're at." Currently, because of the freezes, he said, the state's not even at 2.5 percent of current value in its rents - and it still wouldn't be with the proposed increases.

State Controller Donna Jones spoke out against the motion. "I don't think it'll bring us to a true market rent," she said. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said, "We have an obligation to obtain the maximum long-term return. I do not feel we're fulfilling that obligation with regard to this motion. ... I'll be voting no." Gov. Butch Otter said, "I believe there's a great value in stability." Most importantly, he said, he wants the state to "get on a program" to "in some way trade ourselves out of, auction ourselves out of, sell ourselves out of these lots. And I think I've made myself clear on that." State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna said, "We're never going to maximize earnings for these properties until we sell them ... or trade them for other assets."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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