Friday, March 26, 2010

Ketchum URA gets reprieve

Proposed legislation tabled in Capitol


By JON DUVAL
Express Staff Writer

State lawmakers will wait until next year's legislative session to tackle amendments to Idaho's urban renewal district regulations—a significant reprieve for Ketchum's Urban Renewal Agency.

On Tuesday, the House Revenue and Taxation Committee decided not to bring forward a bill that proposed sweeping changes to existing Urban Renewal Law and the Local Economic Development Act, implemented in 1965 and 1988, respectively.

If passed, the bill would have kept the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency from amending 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 through "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 disolve after 24 years.

Rep. Wendy Jaquet, who sat in on the committee's hearing on the issue, said the bill was tabled for a number of reasons, one of the most important being that the 2010 Legislature is slated to end by the middle of next week.

As well, Jaquet said, comments against the amendments by Ketchum officials, including Mayor Randy Hall and City Councilman Larry Helzel, and Sun Valley Co. Director of Resort Development Wally Huffman helped encourage the committee to hold the bill for the time being.

"I think their testimony had quite a lot of impact," Jaquet said.

Jaquet said the committee members pushing for the amendments feel that the existing law gives cities too much control over tax revenue and that the urban renewal agencies take funding away from other districts, such as schools.

If Ketchum is prohibited from amending the boundaries of its urban renewal district, it would not be able to include Sun Valley Co.'s property at River Run, which is being considered for large-scale development.

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

Jon Duval: jduval@mtexpress.com




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