Friday, May 5, 2006

Does Bellevue need urban renewal district?

Funds could upgrade city roads and water system

Express Staff Writer

The city of Bellevue has scheduled a special City Council meeting to discuss the possible formation of an urban renewal district within a portion of the city's boundaries.

The public meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 8, at Bellevue City Hall.

Bellevue City Clerk Dee Barton said the council will discuss options for creating an urban renewal district and will look at possible sites for the district. The council may also make a decision on the matter during the meeting, Barton said.

"They may or may not make a decision to go forward on this," she said.

During previous meetings, council members have discussed where a potential urban renewal district might be located. Current thinking has centered on the area of the downtown core from Elm Street north to Broadford Road, and down Broadford Road to Martin Lane.

Before the council can move forward much further, it will have to formally agree on the area covered by the district as well as to draft a resolution forming an urban renewal agency (URA) to oversee the district. 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. They capture new growth values that would otherwise go to taxing entities such as the city, county, and cemetery, recreation, ambulance and fire districts.

Because urban renewal districts incur debt separate from the cities they're within, the urban renewal agencies managing the districts can also apply for outside government funding sources separate from the city.

While cities do lose some tax revenue when urban renewal districts are formed, the benefits of the taxing districts are often clear. In some cases, much-needed infrastructure improvement projects cities are unable to fund due to scant financial resources can be completed more quickly.

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