The Barber Valley Neighborhood Association is ready for the long-running dispute over the Community Infrastructure District to come to a close.
The neighborhood association, which encompasses Harris Ranch and other nearby Southeast Boise subdivisions, penned a letter to all of the parties involved in the ongoing lawsuit about the Harris Ranch CID that has been raging for months in Ada County’s Fourth District court. The letter asks for the matter to come to a conclusion soon so the neighborhood can move forward, rather than extending litigation further out into the future.
The letter, which comes after two years of neutrality from the board, says the lawsuit has stopped the completion of several Harris Ranch projects that residents expected to be completed much sooner that are now delayed, like Alta Harris Park, a Town Center and Village Green, along with improvements to the Warm Springs bypass.
“We are convinced this legal impasse will adversely impact our community. We recognize each of the parties has seemingly valid concerns, but our larger Barber Valley community is the forgotten party in this court proceeding and it is our duty to make it clear that we hold all parties responsible for an impasse that has halted community development and instilled a divisive tone that we hope can be healed.”
It is expected to come up for a hearing in January and a ruling should come out next spring. But, depending on the result, either party could appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court and drag out the process longer, which is a concern of the Barber Valley NA.
Harris Ranch CID Taxpayers’ Association board member Larry Crowley said his group still strongly believes that the district is unconstitutional and they would prevail in court, but he’s open to negotiations. He said many residents, including him, were never adequately informed of the extra tax burden they’d be paying in the CID and the double-digit tax increase over other Boise homeowners is unacceptable, “particularly for what we’re getting.”
“What we’re talking about is if there’s a reasonable way to settle this that addresses our concerns out of court, we’re willing to consider it,” he said.
The lawsuit is filed against the Harris Ranch Community Infrastructure District, which has three city council members on the board and is administrated by city staff. The city has declined to comment on the suit since it was filed.
The Harris Ranch Family Limited Partnership is also an intervenor in the suit. Harris Ranch Developer Doug Fowler also said he’s open to talks.
“We would meet with anyone, at anytime, at any place that would want to negotiate in good faith, in a civil manner a resolution,” he said.
What are the issues at play?
The suit, brought by a group of neighbors called the Harris Ranch CID Taxpayers’ Association, disputes the constitutionality of the special taxing district dating back to 2010. Through the district, special taxes are collected on residents and then paid out to reimburse the developer for bonds taken out to build improvements in the neighborhood as the community grows.
Proponents of the CID say it’s a way for growth to pay for itself and not burden city services, but residents filing the suit say the projects the developer would like reimbursement for aren’t appropriate and residents weren’t given proper notice they would be paying higher taxes than other neighborhoods in the city.
City of Boise taxpayers are paying to fight the lawsuit, with a fund of $250,000 in city funds. The city says the tab would be reimbursed by the CID. The CID is funded by taxes collected from residents of the Harris Ranch taxing district.
This is the first time any CID in Idaho has been legally litigated since the law was changed, allowing the special taxing districts in 2008. This means there is no existing case law on this specific issue for the attorneys or judge to draw upon. The results of this case would set a precedent for future cases on CIDs down the road.
A judge ruled earlier this year that payments to the developer from taxes collected from CID residents and new bonds issued could move ahead while the lawsuit was moving through the court system.