Amidst urban renewal lawsuit, Boise Schools works out agreement to work with CCDC, City of Boise

With a lawsuit from the Idaho Freedom Foundation over the creation of two new Boise urban renewal districts in Boise brewing, the Boise School District has agreed not to challenge the formation of those same districts.

In exchange, the Capital City Development Corporation and City of Boise have agreedto give the school district a greater role in the creation of future urban renewal districts.

The school district first approached CCDC and the City of Boise last summer when the Shoreline District was being formed. The city approved it and a new Gateway East District last month.

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“They had concerns about the deannaxation of parcels in River-Myrtle & the 30th Street districts and then adding them into a new urban renewal district,” CCDC Executive Director John Brunelle said.

To form the new district along the river, CCDC pulled a few properties from two older districts and added them to Shoreline. This will extend the length of time those parcels will not add appreciated tax revenues to the school district.

In Idaho, urban renewal essentially freezes the property tax dollars generated by any properties inside a predefined area at the level they were when the district started. Any additional tax value generated each year above the frozen values goes to the urban renewal district instead of police, fire, schools and the like.

In exchange for what CCDC general counsel Ryan Armbruster called a “commitment by (the school district) that they won’t challenge Gateway or Shoreline,” CCDC says it will put more attention toward how its urban renewal funds can be used to help schools.

“It sets out a framework of cooperation among the three parties… to better consider school district needs and capital improvement needs in the future,” Armbruster said.

“We want to be at the table when it comes to how urban renewal dollars will be spent,” Boise Public Affairs Administrator Dan Hollar said. “We see the value of urban renewal districts, but if there is a way that we can use those dollars to benefit our students and our schools through infrastructure, we are all for that.”

Hollar said that the 2017 bond to help rebuild schools is a good start, but the need for dollars to maintain school facilities is ongoing.

“How can we help our schools that have needs? We are an older district compared to the ones around us,” he said. “We have older buildings and they need upkeep and maintenance just like an older house.”

CCDC says its funds could be used to help rehabiliate or rebuild a school building in the future.

The Boise School District Board of Trustees approved the agreement Monday. The CCDC board approved it in a special meeting Friday. The Boise City Council will consider it Tuesday.

“As we are putting (the urban renewal districts) together and as we are planning projects, we want to make sure the school district is there and they have the ability to impact what we do around their buidlings,” City of Boise Director of Communication Mike Journee said. “We will take extra thought to what their needs are for their facilities in their districts.”

CCDC is in the process of studying another two districts that could include Boise School District properties – one on the Boise Bench and another one focused on transit along State St.

[Deep Dive: Up on the Bench – bringing urban renewal up the hill]

“We have a really nice structure to work together in the future, and it’s probably overdue,” Brunelle said.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation spearheaded a lawsuit against the city over the formation of the Shoreline and Gateway East districts. IFF and the other plaintiffs in the suit raised concerns about the constitutionality of raising debt without a vote of the people.

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