Friday, March 12, 2010

Ketchum URA not out of the woods

Legislation could limit scope, income of agency

Express Staff Writer

Last week it looked as if Ketchum would escape a setback from amendments to Idaho's urban renewal district regulations.

However, the bill now being considered by a House Revenue and Taxation subcommittee includes language that could significantly impact Ketchum's plans to capture tax revenue from Sun Valley Resort's proposed development at River Run.

On Monday, the subcommittee will consider a bill that would not permit the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency to amend the boundaries of its district to include any new areas from which the agency would receive revenue.

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.

However, if the proposed legislation is approved, the agency's life span would be reduced by four years.

The greatest impact for the city would be the absence of River Run.

According to the proposed bill, there would be a "prohibition of revenue allocation area expansion, expansion of geographic area, and extension of the years of the urban renewal plan."

Ketchum's financial consultant, Henderson, Young & Co., reported in February that the River Run property could bring $25 million over the next 13 years for the URA. And beginning in 2024, after development is completed, the agency would receive about $3.6 million annually.

"This would be very damaging to our partnership with Sun Valley Co.," Ketchum Community and Economic Development Director Lisa Horowitz said. "It would change our whole business model and plan to partner with the URA."

As currently proposed by Sun Valley Co., Ketchum's URA would set aside half the money earned from the new development to help finance public projects within the base village.

Horowitz said a likely aim of that funding would be construction of parking structures within the base village.

If approved, the new legislation would go into effect July 1, meaning that the city could get around the restrictions by bringing River Run into the renewal district before that date.

Horowitz said that representatives from the city and possibly Sun Valley Co. are expected to head to the Capitol on Monday to testify against the legislation.

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