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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Lawmakers not enthusiastic about proposed new penalties, reporting rules for urban renewal

Proposed reporting requirements to the state Tax Commission for urban renewal districts along with an array of penalties for non-compliance have prompted much debate among lawmakers on the urban renewal interim committee. Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, said he wondered how much it would take for the Tax Commission to become the new urban renewal police. “I don’t have a clue how much manpower it’s going to take to police all the urban renewal agencies across the state,” he said. “But if we’re going to ask permission to take on the additional load, I assume we’re going to have to some way, somehow supply that commission with the manpower and the money to get it done.”

Sen. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, questioned the value of a statewide repository of urban renewal plans, saying most people only want to look at one for a specific community. “I don’t know if we need some comparative place for people to go through and compare one plan to the next,” he said. “It needs to be as simple as possible.”

The penalties for noncompliance with reporting requirements would include withholding of state sales tax revenues for the area; imposition of “noncompliance fees” of up to $5,000 on the agency; special audits and more.

Co-Chair Rick Youngbood, R-Nampa, said, “I don’t know that the committee is thinking the Tax Commission is going to be the urban renewal police. … That’s the cities and the local government that decide that this is what they want to do with their plan ... and if they’re not reporting, they may suffer a little bit of a consequence.”

Rep. Robert Anderst, R-Nampa, defended the idea. “As of right now, statutorily, every urban renewal agency is required to submit their map to the state, and what we’ve heard from the state is that about 50 percent of them have been filed,” he said. “So as it relates to accountability and transparency, that’s what we’re talking about. ... That’s why we need a repository, is because right now with a statute with no teeth, we’re not getting the information in a consolidated location that people can readily access to make sure the plan’s being followed as it’s supposed to be.”

Clow said, “The map is one thing – the complexities of all the plans is something else.”

The panel reached no conclusion. Co-Chair Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston, said, “Thank you, committee, for that discussion. That was good.”

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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