April 20, 2011 in Idaho

Idaho Land Board extends cabin site leases at higher rate

By The Spokesman-Review
 

BOISE – Owners of cabins on state land at Idaho’s Priest Lake will get another two-year lease extension, but it comes with a rent hike.

The cabin owners, who currently pay 2.5 percent of the bare land’s value per year as rent, will be able to keep the leases in 2012 and 2013, but at a rental rate of 4 percent per year, the state Land Board decided Tuesday.

The move comes after the Land Board voted in December to offer cabin owners on state land at Priest and Payette lakes new 10-year leases at a rental rate of 4 percent of the land’s value per year, but the new leases were blocked by two pending lawsuits.

“We need a short-term solution,” state Lands Director George Bacon told the board. All of the 10-year cabin-site leases were set to expire in December, but the state granted a one-year extension under the previous lease terms, at 2.5 percent rent.

Now, it faces an April 30 deadline to provide notice of what will happen in 2012.

“I think we’re in a corner,” said Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa. “This is the way out of it for a while. … I think this is the best we can come up with.”

While agreeing to raise the rental rates for the land on which lessees have built and own cabins, the Land Board in December also voted to move away from the current “split ownership” arrangement, in which the state owns the land and cabin owners the buildings. That would mean, over time, either letting the cabin owners buy the land or acquire it through land exchanges, or the state buying out the improvements.

The state constitution requires endowment land to be managed for maximum long-term returns to the endowment’s beneficiaries, the largest of which is the state’s public schools.

Meanwhile, the Land Board also voted to move forward with auctions, likely in August, of three cabin sites at Payette Lake, including one on the lakefront. Two of the three leaseholders, including the one on the lake, have simply decided to stop paying their leases and given them up.

The state is in court both over the constitutionality of the law that’s blocked public auctions when cabin leases come up for renewal and with cabin owners who have objected to the changing terms of their longtime lease arrangements.


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