Friday, March 5, 2010

Ketchum URA dodges legislative bullet

Proposed bill could have precluded agency from adding River Run

Express Staff Writer

Wendy Jaquet

For a moment, it looked as if Ketchum's Urban Renewal Agency was in jeopardy of facing sweeping changes that could have impacted a significant future revenue stream for the city.

On Thursday, an Idaho House Revenue and Taxation subcommittee chose to defer for a year legislation that could have kept Ketchum from including Sun Valley Co.'s River Run property in the city's existing Urban Renewal District.

As currently allowed by state law, Ketchum has designated a portion of the city as an Urban Renewal District, from which the administrating Urban Renewal Agency is allowed to collect revenue from tax-increment financing.

Inside the boundaries of that district, the city receives money from increases in the tax rolls that occur through new development or inflation. Created in 2006, the agency will expire after 24 years.

The proposed changes would have restricted those boundaries and cut the life span of the district in half, potentially costing Ketchum millions in revenue, especially with Sun Valley Resort's proposed large scale development at River Run.

"This is a win for Ketchum," Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, reported from the Capitol in Boise. "Now Ketchum can go ahead in a more deliberate fashion without feeling like a hammer is hanging over their heads, and can move forward with the public-private partnership [with Sun Valley Co.]"

The proposals put together during the first two months of the 2010 Legislature amended the existing Urban Renewal Law and the Local Economic Development Act, implemented in 1965 and 1988, respectively, through a series of seven bills.

The proposals would have decreased the percentage of the city allowed in the district from 25 percent to 15 percent. Jaquet said that had this form of the bill passed the House and Senate this year, it would have prevented Ketchum from including the River Run property.

According to a report from Ketchum's financial consultant, Henderson, Young & Co., in February, the River Run property could mean $25 million over the next 13 years for the Urban Renewal Agency. And beginning in 2024, after development is completed, the agency would receive about $3.6 million annually.

Jaquet said the subcommittee is still bringing forward amendments during this legislative session that would deal with "blighted" areas. She said the more complicated sections dealing with economic development have been postponed to next year to give the legislators more time to consider the changes. It is those sections that could affect River Run.

Jaquet said the new law would only affect renewal districts created or amended after the law is approved, meaning that if Ketchum can include the River Run property in the district before the 2011 Legislature, it would not be impacted.

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