April 26, 2011

Town Hall Meeting Tonight!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 7:14 am


There is a town hall meeting tonight beginning at 6 p.m. at the Lake City Senior Center, 1916 North Lakewood Drive, Coeur d’Alene. The purpose of the meeting is to better inform the public about Idaho’s urban renewal efforts.  (Mouse-click on the image to enlarge it.)

Today’s Coeur d’Alene Press ran an article in which Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency executive director Tony Berns said he opposed mandatory voter approval for LCDC debt obligations. Berns’ reason for opposing voter involvement? “He predicted that there would be low voter turnout and that most voters would be ill-informed,” according to the article.

LCDC Executive Director Tony Berns’ low opinion of local voters is not shared by the speakers on the schedule for tonight’s meeting.  The speakers’ goal is to inform the public so we can decide for ourselves if and how urban renewal programs can best benefit our state and community.


  1. Move along people, nothing to see here. Remember “your” elected officials know what is best for you. Err, hmm, okay, so Burns is not elected and not subject to any control by the “little” people. Okay, just never mind then…go ahead, go to the meeting, and educate yourselves. Look what happened when minorities and women were given the opportunity to learn to read and, egad…vote. Say, maybe they have something there…all the reading, and gathering of knowledge, in the world won’t matter if no one can vote on proposed life and community changing actions.

    Comment by Happy Trails — April 26, 2011 @ 8:32 am

  2. Berns only wants to save his $120,000/year job.

    Comment by Dan — April 26, 2011 @ 8:57 am

  3. And the Oscar for the most unintentionally funny comment goes to Tony Berns for stating that, “a public vote would hinder the process”.

    Hey Tony, that’s the plan!

    Comment by rochereau — April 26, 2011 @ 9:11 am

  4. Now it is clear what is meant by “local control”. One is very controlling, two is verification, three is collusion, four is undecided, five is consensus, six is very undecided, seven promising, eight is deeply undecided, nine is getting close to losing local control. Can we vote now?

    Comment by Gary Ingram — April 26, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

  5. My favorite Tony quote from today’s paper is this:

    “He predicted that there would be a low voter turn-out and that most voters would be ill-informed.”

    Gosh, Tony, isn’t it your job to educate the public about urban renewal? You are obviously NOT fulfilling that need…(Here’s where we need Donald Trump to step in and say…wait for it…”YOU’RE FIRED”!)

    Comment by mary — April 26, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

  6. I just checked over on the Press blog and wrote this comment about tonight’s forum:

    I hope you do come tonight because there’s new information. We will lay out the facts about urban renewal, including that LCDC now covers 17% of the total taxable value of the CdA and that Post Falls URDs cover more than 21% of their city’s taxable assets. That’s serious stuff, folks, in any economy. But especially when unemployment is 11% because tax rates must rise to cover the public services not paid for by urban renewal districts.

    Also tonight, we will look at McEuen Park and the people who own property nearby. Conspiracy theories? No. But we will lay out who works for whom and examine “influences”. If you don’t think this city runs off of “strings attached”, you are more naive than I was several years ago!

    Frank Orzell’s portion of the program will be enlightening. He’s retired from a long and successful career in business, with an emphasis on management consulting and banking…he’s very interesting and a good speaker. Frank is shocked with what he sees happening in LCDC.

    Come tonight if you want to know more about LCDC and urban renewal. The McEuen Park redo has sparked all kinds of questions about LCDC, and people now want to know what it is and why it’s involved. One guy said he thought LCDC was a private company owned by Duane Hagadone! That’s when we knew we needed to do another public presentation. See you there.

    Comment by mary — April 26, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

  7. Mary: “because tax rates must rise to cover the public services not paid for by urban renewal districts.”

    That’s not possible, Mary, as I’ve shown many times here and you should acknowledge. Taxing disticts can only raise their taxes from new growth (plus 3%) annually, and since the new growth in URDs goes to them and not the taxing districts, it is not possible for levy rates to go up.

    Now, if you want to make the point that those districts must provide services in a URD when none of the new taxes go to them, that’s appropriate. But, taxes CANNOT rise outside a URD to compensate for funds diverted to URDs.

    It is this very misinformation that leads to skepticism of your overall mission to undo URDs.

    Comment by JohnA — April 26, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

  8. JohnA,
    Again it is YOUR’s and the other URA supporters twist. Not Mary’s. The children that live inside a URD STILL go to public school. Therefore, they ARE using a tax base in which they are NOT paying the full amount for and therefore IS a burden on the rest of us taxpayers.

    Comment by concerned citizen — April 26, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

  9. CC, schools aren’t funded by property taxes anymore for operations and maintenance. Voter approved levies are, of course, and they are levied against all properties, including those in a URD. So, the school argument doesn’t hold water.

    It’s not my twist, it’s just the facts. Nothing more.

    Comment by JohnA — April 26, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

  10. Ok JohnA,
    I used the school as an example. How about police, fire, rescue, snow removal, road maintainence, etc.? Again you twist.

    Comment by concerned citizen — April 27, 2011 @ 6:44 am

  11. Simply put, as it currently stands, LCDC is not working in a democratic manner. Tax dollars going to private enrichment is not an appropriate use of public monies. Buetlers new driveway…Sandis new awning…the brick front on the penetentiary condos on Sherman. The list is long. And Riverstone was a monumental shell game. As it currently stands, LCDC is a limitless credit card with the tax payer footing the bill. The supposed oversight is one (insiders) hand washes another. LCDC is an egregious example of taxation without representation.

    John A., can you comment on Berns ignorant comment that the voting public would be ill informed if allowed to vote. In other words, Tony pats us all on the head while saying I know best. This place…..

    Comment by rochereau — April 27, 2011 @ 8:07 am

  12. I heard an unsubstantiated rumor just yesterday the the Hagadone Corp.had established up a line of credit, backed by the equity in the Resort, to cover any shortfall the may result during the implementation of the “New McKuen” Park plan and construction. $39M is a sizable figure, but a guess the benefit of getting rid of the boat launch and beautifying the area around the Resort is worth any amount of financial assistance,( without voter approval).

    Comment by Ancientemplar — April 27, 2011 @ 8:25 am

  13. Rochereau, I think Tony Berns’ comment concerned the common misconceptions about urban renewal in general and bond financing in particular. Even those of us in this business for decades learn something from time to time about the intricacies of urban renewal finance. One area where the voters might be ill-informed, because facts are sometimes misconstrued, is that taxes will increase if a bond for LCDC is issued. That’s not true, of course, since the money is already in place for the bond, paid by only those taxpayers in the URD. Another misconception is that levy rates would drop, potentially, if there were no URDs in Kootenai County. That supposes that districts like the County and NIC would not increase their budgets by the windfall of new taxes that would come from the URD closures, which I think is a stretch to say the very least.

    So, I don’t construe Mr. Berns’ comments to be anything more than an assessment that voters might not understand all the issues about bond financing and therefore not only would voter turnout be low but that the misinformation at hand might lead to confusion on the issue.

    Comment by JohnA — April 27, 2011 @ 10:09 am

  14. John, issuing municipal bonds in today’s economic state seems to be a non-issue. Should LCDC have to raise a substantial amount of money, the corporation will probably seek private financing rather than issue bonds.

    I don’t agree with your assessment of Tony Bern’s comment.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — April 27, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

  15. Susie, I’m looking at a bond refinance for another client right now and the municipal market is definitely heating up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bond issue in the 4.5 percent range for LCDC’s bond issue, if they choose to go that way. When you consider it, why wouldn’t a wealthy investor want to earn that rate tax free, for both federal and state income taxes, versus the puny return from CDs right now. If I were rich, I’d take that return any day of the week.

    Comment by JohnA — April 27, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

  16. JohnA wrote

    “When you consider it, why wouldn’t a wealthy investor want to earn that rate tax free, for both federal and state income taxes, versus the puny return from CDs right now. If I were rich, I’d take that return any day of the week.”

    That is the very problem. The wealthy are getting money for their “FOR PROFFIT” ventures on the backs of the working class. Why are they not paying for it on thei OWN dime like the rest of us?

    Comment by concerned citizen — April 28, 2011 @ 6:48 am

  17. CC, I was referring to potential bond investors in response to Susie’s point that the municipal market is hurting right now. It is the investment of these folks that helps to fund government, CC, without which they couldn’t upgrade their major infrastructure improvements. They get a decent return on their money in exchange for their faith in the local governments with whom they invest.

    Comment by JohnA — April 28, 2011 @ 9:28 am

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