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Wasden asks Idaho Supreme Court to block state cabin lease renewals

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has filed a legal challenge with the Idaho Supreme Court over new lease rules for state-owned cabin sites - including rent increases - approved this month by the Idaho Land Board, contending the rental rates aren’t high enough to bring appropriate returns to the beneficiaries of the state’s school endowment. “The approved plan is flawed because the rent is too low,” said Wasden, who was in the minority in the Land Board’s 3-2 approval of the plan. Click below to read his full announcement and link to court documents filed with the Idaho Supreme Court today.


STATE OF IDAHO

OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
LAWRENCE WASDEN

For Immediate Release
March 24, 2010

Wasden moves to protect public school funding

(Boise) – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden today asked the Idaho Supreme Court to block the renewal of leases on Payette Lake and Priest Lake endowment lands.  In documents filed with the court, Wasden argues that the lease rates approved by the Idaho Land Board last week are too low and illegally favor current leaseholders at the expense of public schools, higher education and State Hospital South.

The 355 cottage sites at Priest Lake are located on public school endowment lands.  There are 167 cottage sites at Payette Lake.  Of these cottage sites, two are located on public school endowment lands, 56 on normal school endowment lands and 109 on state hospital endowment lands.

“The approved plan is flawed because the rent is too low,” Attorney General Wasden said.  “These leases were written to favor the current renters at the expense of public schools and other endowment beneficiaries.  If allowed to take effect, the new leases will deprive the beneficiaries of six to ten million dollars annually.”

The Land Board has a constitutional duty to manage the lands to “secure the maximum long term financial return to the [trust beneficiaries]” and a statutory duty to “insure that each leased lot generates market rent throughout the duration of the lease.”  The Attorney General is asking the Supreme Court to prohibit the Land Board from entering into new leases until the Board adopts lease rates that fulfill those requirements.

Documents filed by the Attorney General are available online at www.ag.idaho.gov.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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