While other lawmakers are running legislation to put limits on urban renewal agencies, one lawmaker wants to pass a law completely removing authorization for them.

Rep. Robert Schaefer, R-Nampa, introduced a bill Thursday in the House Local Government Committee that would entirely repeal Idaho’s urban renewal law and require debts incurred by the agencies be retired.

This is the second time Schaefer has pushed a bill like this. He attempted it last year, but the measure didn’t make it out of committee.

The Nampa Republican is pushing the bill to send more money back to school districts, highway agencies and fire departments.

Urban renewal agencies are funded by increases in property taxes, money that would normally go to schools or other government entities if the agencies didn’t exist.

Schaefer said he is introducing the measure to get legislators talking about the problem he believes exists with urban renewal. “I’d like to have this printed so we can have expanded discourse about the real impact of urban renewal,” Schaefer said, adding that he believes urban renewal represents “legalized theft.”

Rep. Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, opposed the bill, saying her local urban renewal agency is providing a good service to her community. “In the city I live in, the urban renewal agency has done an absolutely excellent job,” Higgins said, though she acknowledged there have been problems with the entities in other areas of the state.

The measure was introduced with two lawmakers dissenting and will receive a thorough hearing in the next week.

The House Local Government Committee has considered three other bills to limit urban renewal agencies, including one to create elections for entity oversight boards.

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About The Author

Dustin Hurst serves as the Communication Director for the Idaho Freedom Foundation. He graduated from Boise State in 2009. His work has been featured by Fox News, Townhall, Public Sector Inc., the Daily Caller, Reason, Human Events, the Spokesman Review and more. He and his wonderful wife Julia have two cute kids. The family resides in Middleton.


  1. Urban Renewal is nothing more than a gateway drug to waste, fraud and property taxpayer abuse. There is nothing done with UR that can’t be accomplished with a voter approved bond election. UR in cities ends up costing every county property taxpayer more in property taxes. I don’t live in Caldwell’s URA but the shift created by UR costs me about $290 per $100k of net taxable value. It is nothing more than legalized theft and it is choking schools, highway districts, counties and other taxing districts of needed funds to provide city services.

    Repeal of UR in Idaho will return millions to Idaho Schools.

  2. Urban Renewal (“UR”) has two fundamental problems: (1) UR has morphed from eradicating slums and blight to into Urban Development;and, (2) UR empowers government entities to utilize tax proceeds without the consent of the citizens. There are better methods to undertake urban development, such as, for example by creating Industrial Development Corporations pursuant to Idaho Code §26-2401, et seq. This provision allows a group of developers, including municipalities to get together with banks and financial entities to make loans and invest in projects. The corporation is qualified to received SBA loans and is audited by the Idaho Deportment of Finance, since banks are directly involved. No tax revenues are used for any project of the corporation without a 2/3 vote of the citizens. Note that, after extensive experience with UR, California has recently repealed its UR law. The abuse of the tax derived “free money” for politically inspired UR projects was just too excessive – even for California!

  3. While improvements were made in last years legislature as to allowing citizens to vote on new projects and limiting the time duration of bonds what is continueing to happen is proof that it is almost impossible to fix a bad law.
    For instance in Nampa during the last year UR board members voted to spend $150,000 on a study for a waste to energy plant which is clearly outside the origional intent to build a library and public safety building–somehow that got reversed also. The most recent action was the removal of two elected officials from the board and replacing them by Mayor appointment. Must have been a coincidence that the two elected officials removed were the ones asking the most questions.

  4. I see Urban Renewal as an uncontrolled means for politicians to fund their own agenda without having to ask for permission to do so. Despite the new reorganization of the Urban Renewal Board in Nampa it is still a misappropriation of taxpayer money. Ending urban renewal would be a number one Mayoral candidate prerequisite for consideration by me. It is time to put the decision to bset utilize these funds back into the hands of the citizens and to abolish this form of taxation in Idaho. I am 100% behind repealing the law.

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