April 21, 2011 in City, Idaho

Lake City board should have $11.7 million pot

Many public projects seeking agency funding
By The Spokesman-Review
 

The city of Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency should have $11.7 million over the next 10 years to invest in public projects within its Lake District, according to a financial consultant’s report Wednesday.

That means the board of the Lake City Development Corp. could have some tough decisions to make in coming weeks because the value of projects looking to the urban renewal agency for funding dwarfs that sum by many millions.

The Lake District covers parts of downtown Coeur d’Alene and stretches roughly up the Northwest Boulevard corridor slightly beyond Interstate 90. The LCDC board hired Eric Heringer, senior vice president for public finance at Seattle Northwest Securities Corp., to determine how much money the agency would have to fund public projects in the district before it expires in 2021.

This is important because many public projects are hoping for a chunk of that money. A proposed remake of downtown’s aging waterfront park, McEuen Field, is estimated at up to $40 million. Other proposals include at least $4 million in requested assistance for traffic improvements in the education corridor, about $2.5 million for improvements to two elementary schools and additional funds for affordable housing projects.

The LCDC’s budget comes from tax-increment financing, in which geographic boundaries are set for a certain length of time in an area targeted for public improvements. As property values rise within that district, the LCDC receives the additional property taxes to use for public improvement projects. The tax-increment revenue for fiscal year 2011 within the Lake District is estimated at $3.8 million.

Heringer’s analysis showed that the LCDC could borrow $16.75 million but would have to set aside 10 percent in a reserve fund for debt service. After paying issuance fees and an additional $3.2 million in existing financial obligations, $11.7 million would remain available for new projects, he said.

LCDC Finance Committee Chairman Rod Colwell said the agency could fund the $4 million in education corridor traffic improvements with cash and still be in good shape financially.

The board’s next step will be to send letters to potential lenders to determine their comfort level with lending that amount of money and to find out what types of deals are available.

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