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Dover taxpayers foot heavy burden for urban renewal, Idaho Freedom Foundation study finds

Dover taxpayers foot heavy burden for urban renewal, Idaho Freedom Foundation study finds

Erik Makrush
August 9, 2011
Erik Makrush
August 9, 2011

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PRESS RELEASE:  A new study by the Idaho Freedom Foundation shows levy rates for the city of Dover would be half what they are if not for urban renewal projects in the rural panhandle town.  Since 2005, the year the Dover Urban Renewal Agency formed, levy rates in the city of Dover have risen 12.7 percent, in spite of property value increasing over 300 percent.  This increased tax burden is being placed on residents of Dover because of the city’s need to increase revenues for services in conjunction with urban renewal projects.

“Dover urban renewal agency is a prime example of why we need additional public policy revision to urban renewal statutes.  Taxpayers are deprived of their constitutional right to vote on bonding and whether their taxes should be increased, when government entities – like Dover – make deals for building of city halls and fire stations without a vote of the citizens.  Urban renewal agency commissioners are not elected and have little to no accountability to the people.  The result is higher taxes and little can be done to change the course of direction once urban renewal district plans and bonds are established,” states Erik Makrush, policy analyst on urban renewal for the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

The Dover urban renewal district has grown to more than 99 percent of Dover’s base taxable value, making it the largest in the state when compared to a city's base taxable value.  Inside the urban renewal district, increased values in property are not included in the calculations of property taxes for taxing districts.  This means, as far as the city of Dover and other taxing districts are concerned, it is still 2005 for one-half of the city's property value.  It also means that most revenue raised in Dover is going to urban renewal projects rather than reducing taxes on property owners.

In 2010, DURA received more than one-half of a million dollars.  That is 7.6 times the amount the city received.  Since its inception, the urban renewal agency has gathered $2.4 million in revenues that is outside of the direct accountability of the citizens of Dover and not reported as part of the city’s regular budgeting process.

While urban renewal proponents have long touted that the creation of urban renewal districts by claiming they have no negative impact on taxpayers or other taxing entities, evidence shows this not the case.

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