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Payment choice is up to voters

     Is Urban Renewal (UR) good or bad? UR is a tool, like a hammer. Hammers are great for building homes, but not programming computers.
     UR is not a tax, but changes distribution of taxes. While UR collects tax from growth, other entities like Fire and Police donít collect from growth, but must grow anyway. They eventually increase their tax rate to compensate. This is why taxes increase from UR.
     The advantage of UR is the ability to accumulate money for huge projects, with flexibility of spending.
     The Idaho Center was the focus of past UR expenditures. If you know someone in the market to buy it, please send them to City Hall. Until then, we have an Idaho Center. The city is working to make the Idaho Center pay for itself. Mayor Dale promised no further capital improvements to the Idaho Center with UR money.
     Eliminating UR would give us a tax break, but Nampaís growth leaves us with large projects in need of attention. Both Garrity Blvd. widening and an overpass at Kings Corner are badly needed. Past history (11th Ave Underpass), shows, if we throw money at a project, other entities are more willing to contribute, thus saving us money.
     Extending UR raises funds to pay for projects as we go. We could finish paying for both projects in about 6 years.
     Without UR, bonding is the next choice. Bonding stretches payments to 20 years, along with appropriate interest. About 2/3 of our tax money would go to interest. After 5 years, I expect other large projects to emerge and require financing. These 20 years of bonding could actually create an additional tax burden.
     If administered properly, UR can save us money. The UR has changed nearly every board member since their inception.
     The question voters must answer is whether to pay as we go (UR), get a loan (bonding), or do nothing and just let the roof keep leaking.

Michael Gray, President
N Nampa Residents Association

Reprinted by permission of Idaho Press Tribune Note: article retyped in HTML for better readability.
Feb 1, 2004 - Page 12a (opinion)



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