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IFF: Twin Falls mayor lacks understanding of how local project is funded

IFF: Twin Falls mayor lacks understanding of how local project is funded

Wayne Hoffman
November 12, 2013
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November 12, 2013

Recently, I wrote about the crony deal that helped Twin Falls land Clif Bar. I don't mind criticism of things I write and say. What I do mind is when government officials take on the air of a 5-year-old playground bully. That's what happened to Twin Falls Mayor Greg Lanting, who in addition to being childish, didn't even bother to do his homework when it comes to the multimillion dollar project taxpayers are underwriting.

Idaho Freedom Foundation is critical of the project because it is funded using several streams of revenue from taxpayers. Lanting responded to the criticism on the Twin Falls Times News website. This is what he wrote: “Where does one start besides liar, liar pants on fire!! As always Mr. Hoffman has failed to do his homework and would rather tell us a story to make his point than provide his readers the truth.”

I can't even begin to imagine what prompts a government official to descend into that kind of language, but that kind of discourse should not be tolerated or ignored.

In his response, Lanting contends that property taxpayers are immune from the impacts of urban renewal projects, a contention IFF continues to note is flatly false. Taxpayers do pay for urban renewal. While the value of the Clif Bar plant gets pounded back into urban renewal, as far as other taxing districts are concerned, there's just a vacant field there. So when the city and the county and the ambulance district find they need more resources to provide services for Clif Bar, guess who will pay the costs?

In Nampa, Caldwell, Coeur d'Alene, Pocatello and other Idaho cities that aggressively use urban renewal, the tax levies are higher. Period. Finally, Lanting says the money from Idaho's Workforce Development funds is the product of federal grants. He says this to support his claim that unemployment taxes are not being used to subsidize workforce development at Clif Bar.

Idaho's Workforce Development Fund is paid for out of an offset of monies paid by Idaho employers through their unemployment taxes. This is not federal money. This is money right from the pockets of Idaho employers, and by extension, employees.

Maybe Lanting should stop with the name calling long enough to hear from and listen to taxpayers impacted by the city's decisions.

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