Friday, November 17, 2006

Ketchum council approves URA plan

Money will help pay for affordable housing

Express Staff Writer

One idea for Ketchum's revitalization that came out of the downtown master plan process has been enacted, and money should start flowing by January.

The Ketchum City Council on Wednesday, Nov. 15, held the third and final reading of the Urban Renewal Agency plan.

"This is a big deal," said Mayor Randy Hall. "We did the downtown master plan, the form-based code. We have all these wonderful plans, but without the ability to pay for them, they really don't mean anything. This (plan) is the means to pay for them."

The council unanimously voted to approve the plan, which will go into effect once it's published next week in the newspaper of record.

The plan will be retroactive to January 2006. The URA, then, will be able to collect the increment, or the increase in value from one year to the next, from properties within the URA boundaries.

The method captures new growth values—meaning money—that otherwise would go to taxing entities such as the city, county, and cemetery, recreation, ambulance and fire districts. School districts are exempt.

The City Council appointed itself in April as the URA board of directors. Council members eventually will be replaced by an independent board or directors.

The city anticipates approximately $150,000 to arrive in January. That will be followed in June by a smaller check, said City Administrator Ron LeBlanc, the URA executive director.

The money will be used for expenses and projects—mostly affordable housing—within the boundaries of the urban renewal area.

"We've got the plan now, and we've got the ability to pay for it," Hall said. "Things are galvanizing right now."

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