Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bellevue considering urban renewal district

Express Staff Writer

The formation of a Bellevue urban renewal district would help fund much-needed infrastructure projects, to improve things such as roads and water lines, that the city currently is unable to fund.

Such was the general consensus of Bellevue City Council members during their meeting Thursday, April 13.

Current thinking by the council has centered on creating an urban renewal district covering portions of the city's downtown core from Elm Street north to Broadford Road, and down Broadford Road to Martin Lane, Bellevue City Council member Tammy Eaton said. Eaton is leading an effort to create such a district.

If the council decides to go forward with creating an urban renewal district, the next steps will be to formally agree on the area covered by the district and to draft a resolution forming an urban renewal agency (URA) to oversee the district, Eaton said.

Idaho law states that urban renewal districts can only cover an area of a city that is equal to no more than 10 percent of its total assessed value.

Urban renewal districts generate funds without increasing property taxes and without affecting the local school district by capturing new growth values that otherwise would go to taxing entities such as the city, county, and cemetery, recreation, ambulance and fire districts.

Although cities in which an urban renewal district is formed lose the tax revenue generated from within the district, they can benefit from their formation in a number of ways.

The most obvious is that much-needed infrastructure improvement projects cities are unable to fund due to scant financial resources can be completed more quickly without the use of city funds.

And because they incur debt separate from the cities they're within, urban renewal districts can also apply for outside government funding separate from the city.

"They don't indebt the city for what is being done in the city," Eaton said.

Urban renewal districts translate into less tax revenue from within the district going to outside taxing entities, she said.

"Instead we get to recycle the money we're already making," Eaton said.

Bellevue isn't the only municipality in the Wood River Valley to consider forming an urban renewal district. The city of Ketchum recently formed its own and just held the first meeting of its URA board on April 17.

The Bellevue City Council will continue discussing the matter at its next meeting on April 27.

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