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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

Urban Renewal Bill Scheduled for Senate Hearing Wed., March 23

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Today, the Idaho House of Representatives passed House Bill 606—the urban renewal reform bill sponsored by the legislative Urban Renewal Interim Committee—by a vote of 52-17-1.  The bill will be up for hearing before the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23. 

 

We encourage city officials to be in attendance to testify and if possible, find representatives of local businesses and Chambers of Commerce to testify as well.

  

We appreciate the tremendous work that the Interim Committee has invested in the process and in this legislative proposal.  AIC's concern is that provisions of the bill requiring a base reset in the case of future plan amendments will tie the hands of local officials who work hard to attract new businesses and jobs to Idaho communities.  Protecting urban renewal as a vital tool for economic growth and job creation is integral to the future success of our state and communities.  

 

It is very important for legislators to hear real life examples of economic development opportunities that required plan amendments like those that would be prohibited for future urban renewal plans if House Bill 606 is passed without amendment.

 

If you are unable to attend the hearing in person, we ask that you email members of the committee.  Again, it is very helpful to identify urban renewal projects in your community that required plan amendments and how these projects have benefitted your community.  

 

Contact information for the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee is as follows:

 

Sen. Jeff Siddoway, Terreton, Chair:  jsiddoway@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Jim Guthrie, Inkom, Vice Chair: jguthrie@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Curt McKenzie, Nampa: cmckenzie@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Dan Johnson, Lewiston: djohnson@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Jim Rice, Caldwell:  jrice@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Steve Vick, Dalton Gardens: sjvick@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Clifford Bayer, Meridian: cbayer@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Michelle Stennett, Ketchum: mstennett@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Grant Burgoyne, Boise: gburgoyne@senate.idaho.gov

 

 

SUMMARY OF HOUSE BILL 606A

 

Section 1: Amends Section 50-2006, Idaho Code, relating to urban renewal agency governance.

 

1.  Authorizes the city council to remove an urban renewal commissioner from office for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or misconduct.

2.  Removes provisions of Idaho law that authorize the urban renewal board to fill board vacancies by appointment. That authority is now given to the mayor with the consent of the council.

3.  Prohibits a majority of the city council from serving on an urban renewal commission. City councilors and the mayor may serve on the urban renewal board, provided that they do not constitute a majority of the commission.

4.  Allows a city council to insert itself as the urban renewal commission by ordinance for only up to one (1) year.

5.  Authorizes the city council to enact an ordinance requiring urban renewal commissioners to stand for election. The election would be governed by municipal election law.

6.  Requires that urban renewal commissioners must at minimum reside within the political boundaries of the county in which the agency is located.

 

 

Section 2: Amends Section 50-2033, Idaho Code, to set forth basic conditions in which urban renewal plans can be amended.

 

1.  Clarifies the scenarios in which an urban renewal plan can be amended for boundary changes.

 

 

Section 3: Amends Section 50-2903, Idaho Code, to add code references to other code sections.

 

1.  Adds references to new code sections created pursuant to this bill.

 

2.  Provides for a grandfather clause to allow urban renewal plans created before July 1, 2016 to be amended for any purpose without resulting in a base reset.

 

 

Section 4: Creates a new Section 50-2903A, Idaho Code, to set forth the conditions under which an urban renewal plan can be amended without resetting the base assessment value.

 

1.  Establishes that an urban renewal plan created on or after July 1, 2016 can be only amended for the following reasons without resulting in a base reset:

a.  To make technical or ministerial plan amendments,

b.  To make a plan amendment that increases the revenue allocation area boundary by up to 10%,

c.  To de-annex parcels from a revenue allocation area, or

d.  To make a plan amendment to support growth of an existing commercial or industrial project in an existing revenue allocation area.

2.  Importantly, the most negative impact, should this bill become law, any urban renewal plan amendment to accommodate a new economic development project will result in a resetting of the base assessment value and loss of existing tax increment (as noted below, any outstanding debt will be protected and will not lose the increment necessary to meet debt obligations).

3.  Requires that the state tax commission, the county clerk, and the county assessor be notified of any urban renewal plan amendments.

4.  If plan modifications are deemed to have occurred for a non-approved reason (other than a-d above), the base assessment value will be reset and accrued tax increment will be lost.

5.   If the base assessed value is reset and there is any indebtedness that cannot be repaid, the urban renewal agency will continue to receive any tax increment necessary to meet debt obligations.

6.  Any tax increment in excess of what is necessary to meet debt obligations will be returned to eligible taxing districts and go into their respective base budgets.

 

 

Section 5: Amends Section 50-2905, Idaho Code, relating to the content of revenue allocation area plans.

 

1.  Requires that a revenue allocation area plan must state with specificity details about the types of projects that are contemplated.

2.  Requires that any changes to an urban renewal plan be noticed and completed in an open public meeting.

 

 

Section 6: Creates a new Section 50-2905A, Idaho Code relating to the expenditure of certain urban renewal funds for public buildings.

 

1.  Allows for up to 51% of the project costs of certain public buildings to be paid for by urban renewal revenues.

2.  If more than 51% of project costs for specified public buildings are to be spent on the building, the proposal must be approved by 60% of city voters.

3.  The voting provisions only apply to the following public buildings: an administrative building, a city hall, a library, a courthouse, a public safety building, a fire station, a jail or detention facility, or a judicial building.

4.  All other types of buildings, infrastructure, or other public improvements not listed under the term “municipal building” may be funded 100% without the need of voter approval. 

 

 

Section 7: Creates a new Section 50-2913, to establish urban renewal reporting requirements and penalties for non-compliance.

 

1.  Establishes a central repository to be managed by the state tax commission for urban renewal agencies to upload urban renewal plans and urban renewal plan amendments.

2.  Urban renewal agencies that fail to comply with reporting requirements will experience a onetime loss of new increment and a temporary loss of property tax replacement revenues.

3.  There are no protections for any debt for which repayment is reliant upon the new increase in increment revenues which may jeopardize any debt obligations and make it more difficult to secure financing for future projects.

4.  The online reporting requirements will be effective January 1, 2017.

 

 

Section 8: Amends Section 63-301A, Idaho Code, relating to the new construction roll.

 

1.  Clarifies that in the event of a base reset due to a prohibited plan amendment, any lost increment revenues will go to the respective taxing districts and be included in their respective base budgets.

2.  Clarifies that in the event of an amendment to de-annex parcels, any increment revenues associated with the de-annexation will go to the respective taxing districts and be included in their respective base budgets.

 

 

 

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AIC Records Retention Bill Passes Senate

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, March 17, 2016

AIC's records retention bill passed the Senate by a vote of 34-0-1 yesterday and now awaits signature by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter.  

We greatly appreciate the help of the bill's sponsors: Rep. John McCrostie of Garden City and Sen. Michelle Stennett of Ketchum.

Also thanks to the city officials who contacted legislators in support of House Bill 443

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AIC-Sponsored Bill on Unused Cemetery Lots Passes Legislature

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, March 17, 2016

An AIC-sponsored bill that will help cities deal with unused cemetery lots has passed the House and Senate and now awaits signature by Governor. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

House Bill 496 provides a process for cities and cemetery districts to follow to deal with cemetery lots that were sold decades ago where there is uncertainty about whether the owner or their family intend to use the lot.

Since the 1960s, most cemetery deeds have included reversionary clauses that provide that if the lot is not used within a specified period of time—generally 30 to 50 years—then the lot reverts to the cemetery owner.  A number of Idaho cities—including Boise, Nampa, Caldwell and Lewiston—face the challenge of dealing with cemetery lots sold decades ago before reversionary clauses became standard practice.  For example, the City of Caldwell has more than 100 cemetery lots purchased between 50 and 100 years ago that have not been used for burial where it is not clear whether the owner or their heirs have any interest in using the lot.

Under HB 496, in the event that a cemetery lot has not been used for burial for at least 50 years after purchase, the city or cemetery district notifies the owner or the owner’s heirs of the existence of the lot and gives them 60 days to respond in writing to express an interest in using the lot for burial.  If the owner cannot be located, then legal notice is published for three weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county and the notice is mailed to the owner’s last known address, if available.

If the owner or their heirs fail to notify the city or district within 60 days after notice is provided that they intend to use the lot, then it reverts to the city or district and may be sold for burial purposes.

In the event that the owner or their heir shows up at some point down the line after the lot reverted to the city or district and wants to use it for burial, they are entitled to use it if the lot has not been sold to someone else.  If the lot has been sold, the city or district must either provide another lot in the cemetery or compensate the person for the fair value of the lot at the present time.

This legislation will help public cemeteries to deal with this issue in a responsible way that respects the rights of the purchaser and their heirs.  

 

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Senate Committee Approves AIC-Sponsored Records Retention Bill

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, March 14, 2016

Last week the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee approved AIC-sponsored legislation on city records retention.  House Bill 443 will likely be up for floor debate and vote in the Senate toward the middle of this week and will be carried on the floor by Sen. Michelle Stennett of Ketchum.  The bill passed the House by a vote of 66-1-3.

House Bill 443 would extend to cities the authority that the Legislature has already granted to counties and highway districts to retain permanent records using digital media.  House Bill 443 is supported by the Idaho State Historical Society and their suggestions were incorporated into the legislation.  

Currently, Idaho law requires cities to retain permanent records in paper form, which can prove to be a challenge with records like commercial building plans that take up considerable space.  Retaining these records electronically will be much more user friendly and efficient than keeping them in paper form.  For permanent records that are not of historical significance, House Bill 443 would allow these records to be retained using digital media and then the paper original of the record could be destroyed after notice to the Idaho State Historical Society.

House Bill 443 also provides a definition of historical records and requires these records to be retained in paper form in perpetuity, either by the city or the State Archives.

City officials are encouraged to contact members of the Senate to respectfully ask for their support of House Bill 443.  

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Campaign Finance Bill Defeated in Senate State Affairs Committee

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, February 22, 2016

Today the Senate State Affairs Committee defeated legislation that would have required campaign finance reporting in all city elections. 

Senate Bill 1299, sponsored by Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene and Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, was opposed by local government associations including AIC, the Idaho School Boards Association, the Idaho Association of Highway Districts and the Idaho Library Association.  A motion to send the bill to the amending order for changes failed on a 2-6 vote.

“I am here this morning to offer you a bit of sunshine, and I think we need it,” Souza said in her remarks to the committee.  “And by sunshine I mean reporting of campaign expenditures and donations equally on all sides of elections at both our state and local levels.”

Souza argued that local governments have significant spending authority and power to decide public policy, and that demands transparency in terms of how campaign money is being raised and spent.

Representatives of the local government associations noted that it is already difficult to find people to serve in local elected office and piling more requirements on candidates will make that task even harder. 

“The elected officials who serve in our small cities already balance the demands of working one or two jobs, having a family, and their role as a volunteer public servant,” said Justin Ruen, Policy Analyst for AIC.  “We greatly appreciate the sacrifices that our local public servants make to serve their communities.”

“The burdens of Senate Bill 1299 will fall squarely on the shoulders of the smallest cities with the smallest budgets, many of which have part-time city clerks who will have to learn and administer a very complicated campaign finance law,” Ruen said. 

We greatly appreciate the many calls and emails that city officials made to legislators in opposition to the bill. 

We ask city officials to call or email the following legislators to thank them personally for their vote to defeat SB 1299. 

Sen. Curt McKenzie, Chair: cmckenzie@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, Vice Chair: palodge@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Bart Davis: bmdavis@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Brent Hill: bhill@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Michelle Stennett: mstennett@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb: cbucknerwebb@senate.idaho.gov

 

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House Committee will Hear Telecom Facility Relocation Bill on Tuesday, Feb. 16

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, February 15, 2016

The House Local Government Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday, February 16 on House Bill 404, which would require urban renewal agencies to pay the full cost of relocating telecommunication facilities resulting from an urban renewal project.  We ask city officials to contact members of the committee to respectfully ask legislators to oppose the bill.

House Bill 404 is sponsored by Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star on behalf of Frontier Communications.  The bill provides: “In the event that a telecommunications service provider is required to relocate its facilities to accommodate an Idaho urban renewal agency project within its area of operation… an urban renewal agency shall directly reimburse the telecommunications service provider one hundred percent (100%) of the cost of relocation of its facilities.” 

The bill also provides that the full costs of any facility relocation in process on July 1, 2016 must be paid by the urban renewal agency if there is no written agreement between the agency and the service provider concerning relocation costs. 

The bill defines “cost of relocation” as “the entire cost incurred by the telecommunications service provider attributable to the relocation of the utility facility after deducting any salvage value derived from the old utility facility.”

Why Should House Bill 404 be Defeated?

Cities work closely with utilities during the design stage of projects to ensure that their needs are taken into account and that the project will happen in such a way as to minimize costs to the utility and limit disruption of utility service.  These principles are codified in Idaho Code 40-210, which requires local governments to consult and coordinate with utilities on projects within public highways and the associated rights-of-way.

Idaho court rulings have held that utility providers are “permissive users” of rights-of-way and do not have any property interest in rights-of-way.  Currently urban renewal agencies are able to negotiate with service providers for voluntary payment of relocation costs, which allows agencies to participate to the extent that funding and other circumstances allow. 

The issue of utility relocation in urban renewal projects has been known and discussed for some time, but neither the issue nor the proposed legislation were presented to the Urban Renewal Interim Committee.

Telecommunication companies operate under a special franchise granted in Article XI, Section 13 of the Idaho Constitution and do not pay the franchise fees that power, cable television, and natural gas service providers pay for use of public rights-of-way.  Telecommunications providers are already in a privileged position. 

House Bill 404 would single out urban renewal agencies and require them to pay for utility relocation using public funds when no other public agency is required to do so.  This is bad public policy. 

Relocation of utility facilities represents an opportunity for telecommunications service providers to upgrade their equipment.  Many urban renewal projects attract new businesses to communities, helping to increase the customer base for these utilities.  While there are costs associated with these projects, there are also benefits from the service provider’s perspective.

Contact Members of the Committee

We ask city officials to contact members of the committee to respectfully ask that they oppose House Bill 404.  The committee members and their email addresses are listed below.  

Rep. Lynn Luker, Boise, Chair: lluker@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Kathleen Sims, Coeur d’Alene, Vice Chair: ksims@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Vito Barbieri, Dalton Gardens: vbar@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Christy Perry, Nampa: cperry@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Lance Clow, Twin Falls: lclow@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Wendy Horman, Idaho Falls: wendyhorman@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Luke Malek, Coeur d’Alene: lmalek@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Gary Collins, Nampa: gcollins@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Don Cheatham, Post Falls: dcheatham@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Thomas Loertscher, Iona: tloertscher@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Eric Redman, Athol: eredman@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Hy Kloc, Boise: hkloc@house.idaho.gov
Rep. John McCrostie, Garden City: jmccrostie@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Mark Nye, Pocatello: mnye@house.idaho.gov

 

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AIC Sponsored City Records Retention Legislation Introduced

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, February 10, 2016

AIC sponsored legislation that would allow cities to retain permanent records digitally has been introduced and will be up for hearing soon in the House Local Government Committee.

House Bill 443 would make several changes to the city records retention law. 

(1) Provides a definition for "historical records" and requires such records to be retained in
perpetuity by the city or transferred to the State Archives.

(2) Repeals Idaho Code 50-909 and incorporates the provisions of that section concerning retention of records using photographic or digital media into Idaho Code 50-907.

(3) Cities are authorized to retain permanent records using photographic or digital media, and to
destroy paper originals of non-historical records preserved on photographic or digital media.

(4) Provisions concerning destruction of records that have met their required retention period match the current law, except for language clarifying that historical records cannot be destroyed.

The primary impetus behind the legislation is allowing the larger cities to deal more efficiently and effectively with records like commercial building plans, which are classified as permanent records and are currently required to be kept in paper form forever.  Although the Building Code requires these plans to be kept for the life of the building, they can be retained digitally and free up considerable storage space for other records.  Legislation has already been passed allowing counties and highway districts to retain permanent records digitally.  

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Thanks for Making City Officials' Day at the Capitol a Success!

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, February 1, 2016

Thanks to the nearly 220 city officials who were in attendance at last week's City Officials' Day at the Capitol.  

The day kicked off with a legislative briefing featuring remarks from Lieutenant Governor Brad Little on the most significant issues facing cities and the State of Idaho.  

Dr. Jim Weatherby moderated a legislative panel including Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Brent Hill of Rexburg, House Local Government Committee Chair Rep. Lynn Luker of Boise, and Co-Chair of the Urban Renewal Interim Committee Rep. Rick Youngblood of Nampa.  

City officials enjoyed a great lunch with nearly all of the 105 members of the Idaho Legislature in attendance, as well as several state executive branch officials and state agency heads.  

AIC presented the legislators with the much loved Idaho ties and scarves that are seen so frequently in the capitol.  

In the afternoon, city officials had the opportunity to tour the capitol, check out committee hearings, or schedule meetings with legislators and state agency staff.

Thanks again for making the 2016 City Officials' Day at the Capitol a success! 

Tags:  City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

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See You at City Officials' Day at the Capitol

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, January 25, 2016

We look forward to seeing many city officials in Boise on Thursday, January 28 at the annual City Officials' Day at the Capitol.  There is still time to register online.  

The event will kick off with a Legislative Briefing at 9:00 a.m. in the Summit Room of the Boise Centre.  The morning session will feature remarks from Idaho Lieutenant Governor Brad Little.  We will also have a legislative panel moderated by Dr. Jim Weatherby, including Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill of Rexburg, House Local Government Committee Chair Rep. Lynn Luker of Boise and Rep. Rick Youngblood of Nampa.  The morning session will also feature discussion concerning several legislative hot topics.

The meeting will break shortly before Noon to allow city officials to walk or take the AIC shuttles to the capitol to meet their legislators outside the House and Senate chambers on the third floor of the capitol building.  City officials then escort the legislators to the luncheon at the Boise Centre, which will be in the Eagle Room.

In the afternoon, city officials can take a tour of the capitol, attend legislative committee hearings, or schedule private meetings with legislators or state agency staff.

We strongly recommend calling your legislators to let them know you will be in town and would like to sit with them at lunch.  You can contact your legislator through the Legislative Information Center at (208) 332-1000.  Generally, it is easiest to meet up with legislators outside of the House and Senate chambers at the capitol.

See you on Thursday!

Tags:  City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

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Urban Renewal Interim Committee Meets to Discuss Draft Legislation

Posted By Seth Grigg, Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Urban Renewal Interim Committee met on December 14th in Boise to discuss draft legislation intended to reform Idaho’s urban renewal laws. The draft legislation can be viewed by clicking here. The Legislation contains the following key changes:

  • Consolidate Chapter 20 and Chapter 29 of Title 50 into a single chapter.
  • Authorizes a city council to enact by ordinance how an urban renewal commission is appointed and terms of service, including imposing term limits and allowing commissioners to be elected in a general election.
  • Establish a central repository for urban renewal plans, maps, and budget documents and imposing penalties for noncompliance, which penalties may include a loss of tax increment revenues.
  • Restrict the use of urban renewal funds for public buildings including city halls, administrative buildings, and libraries. As currently drafted, the proposal would allow up to $1,000,000 of urban renewal funds or up to 49% of project costs for public buildings to be covered by an urban renewal agency without a public vote. If urban renewal contributions exceed 49% then a public vote would be required to use urban renewal funds.
  • Require the base assessment roll to be reset each time an urban renewal plan is amended.
  • Allow aggrieved parties to bring about a class action lawsuit against the urban renewal agency or individual urban renewal commissioners.

The interim committee spent over three hours reviewing the draft legislation and debating among themselves the merits of the concept. After considerable discussion, the interim committee elected to strike Sections 18 and 19 from the draft, removing proposed language allowing class action lawsuits to be brought against an agency or agency commissioners. Committee members also acknowledged that other changes to the draft would be made; however, the committee members did not elaborate on what those changes will be. The interim committee will meet again in early January to finalize their recommendations to the full Legislature. It is important to note that regardless of what the interim committee recommends, the legislation will be required to go through the same public hearing process as other legislation, including consideration by germane house and senate committees, a vote by the full house and senate, and consideration by the governor.

The most concerning element of what is being proposed is language that clarifies the any urban renewal plan amendment requires a resetting of the base assessment roll, thereby eliminating any tax increment that has been realized to that point in time and jeopardizing any outstanding bonds. Requiring the base assessment roll to reset each time a plan is amended will have the effect of preventing plan amendments and eliminate an agency’s ability to respond to unforeseen economic and infrastructure development needs and potentially result in cities turning away new development.

AIC staff and as well as legal counsel for Redevelopment Association of Idaho are currently reviewing the proposed legislation and formulating an appropriate response to the interim committee. We will soon be providing city and urban renewal officials with talking points to be used when engaging legislators. If you have any questions or comments about urban renewal legislation, please reach out to AIC Executive Director Seth Grigg via email (sgrigg@idahocities.org) or by phone (208-344-8594). 

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