Reports & Financials
- 2012 Annual Report
- Annual report in conformance with Idaho Code §50-2006
Idaho Code §50-2006 requires an Urban Renewal Agency to file a report of its activities for the preceding calendar year. Such report is to include a financial report setting forth its assets, liabilities, income and operating expenses as of the end of the fiscal year. The report includes overviews of both the Legacy Crossing and Alturas Technology Park urban renewal districts.
- Audited Financial Statement [what is this...]
Idaho Code §50-1010 and §67-450B requires a full and complete audit of the Urban Renewal Agency’s financial statements to be made each fiscal year. A copy of the complete financial statements as audited by independent auditor Presnell Gage, PLLC is attached.
Community InformationLast update: October 2009
Time and again, social, ecological or economic change forces a population to rethink its community; what worked before may not work anymore. A creeping decline can often go unnoticed for some time, and it is the responsibility of the city and county council to initiate projects to counter the decline. One approach to counteract this decline is by creating an Urban Renewal Agency and Urban Renewal Districts.
The Moscow Urban Renewal Agency now has two such districts: Alturas Technology Park and Legacy Crossing.
- Alturas Technology Park (1996)
Q: What purpose does the Alturas district serve? [more...]
Alturas' serves two objectives:
- to foster and accommodate economic growth resulting from university-based business development.
- to enhance the public infrastructure and amenities east of the City along Troy Road.
The first objective is intended to counter the creeping decline that Moscow's economy experienced due to the ongoing consolidation in agricultural services. By providing the infrastructure conducive to high-tech industry, the Alturas Technology Park increases Moscow's chances of accommodating and retaining any spin-offs from the University, the Business Technology Incubator, or private sector development.
The second objective was to provide vital infrastructure to increase opportunities for economic development and potential in the area surrounding Alturas Technology Park. The Alturas District includes Eastside Marketplace which was the first regional shopping mall in Moscow. The mall now serves the population base in the neighborhoods on the east side of the City. The subsequent establishment of the Palouse Mall and additional grocery options along the Washington State border has pushed retail westward and significantly eroded the customer base for retail on the eastside of town. By facilitating development in Alturas Technology Park, the Moscow Urban Renewal Agency has also provided amenities that benefit the surrounding neighborhood and promote further economic development opportunities in Eastside Marketplace.
Q: Isn’t Urban Renewal about blight? [more...]
Under Idaho Code, Urban Renewal can also be used in cases of "competitively disadvantaged border communities". Economic growth across the state line in Washington has been enhanced by several distinctive advantages regarding the creation of ports, property tax advantages, and lower business and personal costs; advantages that made it hard for Moscow to compete. The creation of the Alturas District provided better means to maintain and enhance Moscow's competitiveness.
Q: Did Alturas live up to expectations? [more...]
Initially, some of the businesses that located in the park could have easily located elsewhere in Moscow. Even though they are welcome tenants of the park, and their presence proved the need for high quality business locations in Moscow, the park only started attracting technology-based business after the District adopted more stringent admission criteria.
Of the dozen companies currently located in Alturas, at least five companies (Comtech AHA, EMSI, Anatek Labs, Alturas Analytics and Biotracking LLC) contribute significantly to the Moscow export-economy by selling across the US or even worldwide. Several of these companies expressed doubts whether they would have located in Moscow without the infrastructure that Alturas offered; two companies stated that they probably would have located in Moscow regardless of the Alturas Technology Park, but certainly preferred its presence over the alternative. All of the companies believe that the professional image of Alturas adds to their success, especially when hosting potential clients and attracting future employees.
In 2009, the base-economic contribution of these five companies collectively accounted for close to $35 million dollars, and around 130 employees. With six business locations still available, this already makes Alturas a success as far as its objective of Economic Development is concerned.
Q: How much did the project cost the tax payer? [more...]
The short answer is: in all likelihood nothing.
Q: Why the "in all likelihood"? That sounds like you are not sure...
And isn't the Urban Renewal District financed by our property taxes?
When the Alturas district was formed in 1996, the tax base (the combined value of all the properties in the district) was "frozen" and the property taxes from that base continue to flow to the city and county as usual.
The idea was that, if Alturas was at all successful, it would not only add properties to the base, but, in all likelihood, would increase the value of properties around the park. The district would then be funded with the tax income over anything above that base; in other words, if the district was unsuccessful, it would not receive any funding.
So what happened? As the graph below shows, the tax base was around $6.5 million prior to the creation of Alturas and as of 2009, the property value in the district has increased to almost $30 million - a spectacular growth rate that has added significant value to the community.
So why the "in all likelihood"?
The issue is twofold:
- > would the property values in the area have increased in value without the presence of the Technology Park, in which case we, as tax payers, forewent the taxes on the increased value that would have happened regardless;
- > are we paying substantially more for regular city services (school, fire protection, etc) because the district is not (yet) paying for these services?
We have to realize that the total renewal district (and thus tax-base) includes Eastside Marketplace, a new commercial center a little west from there, and a new residential neighborhood next to the park. Of the total increase in property value of over $20 million, only $8.5 million can be contributed to the buildings in the Technology park, so would any of the other $12 million increase have happened without Alturas?
The final answer to this question is never going to be certain, but we can look at some of the drivers. On the retail side: the most likely scenario is that the retail base around Troy Road would have continued to erode without the technology park, and the new center would not have been built or been nearly as successful. This would have almost certainly prevented any increase in property value, and potentially decreased the tax base and thus the revenue for the City and the other taxing districts. Urban development is an intricate mix of residency, retail and workplaces, and the Technology Park in that area provides a much needed injection: the additional traffic of employees, visitors and parents (for the child care center) provide an impetus for that area. As far as residential development is concerned: the infrastructure and road access provided through the Alturas development allowed the adjoining residential development to expand; without it, that development would not have happened, and it was actually one of the objectives of the Alturas district. Finally: property values in general went up, eventually benefitting all property owners in the district.
In summary; we, as tax payers, probably did not sacrifice. We certainly all benefit from the increased economic stimulus that the district established, and we will benefit again when the district is closed out and the entire tax revenue is available to all of the taxing districts.
Q: Alturas started in 1996; when will the project be over? [more...]
Under Idaho Code, a renewal district's life is usually set at 24 years. That is a long time, but urban renewal is meant to fix problems that took a long time to happen and usually takes a long time to solve.
In order to finance the project (infrastructure and land purchase), the district borrowed money to the amount of $1.3 million to purchase property and develop the infrastructure. This debt is slowly paid back (with interest), but as of 2009 we still owe about $800,000. Although the debt is being paid off sooner than originally expected, the district cannot be closed until all of the debt is retired, so expect still a few more years...
Q: How was the money used? [more...]
As the graph below shows, the bulk of the money went into infrastructure - roads, utilities, fiber optic cable for high speed internet access, etc. The next largest cost was the purchase of land, and interest over the money that was borrowed to finance all this. The operating expense was the cost actually spent by the Urban Renewal Agency for oversight, contracts and legal expenses, accounting audits etc.
The income from property taxes is income over tax increment only; that is: property taxes over the increase in property value beyond the tax base of 1996 (see Q:How much did the project cost the tax payer?).
Finally, the net result is a loss of approximately $440 thousand as of 2009 that will probably disappear per 2010 - which means the project will break even in 2010.
Q: Why did the city initiate this project in stead of a private developer? [more...]
That is a great question. We could all wish that private industry would take on these kind of projects. The truth is that the term of the project is too long for private industry to be interesting; they usually want a return on their investment within 10 years, and the Alturas Renewal project only turned a modest "profit" after 15 years (this is looking at investments only; not at the economic contribution of the industries).
Renewal projects are about preparing the way: lowering the thresholds for private industry to partake and reinventing our communities to accommodate and promote successful private initiative.
- Legacy Crossing District (2009)
Q: Is this district about downtown renewal? [more...]
Yes and no: it certainly is about the downtown district, but the Urban Renewal Agency is not "redeveloping" downtown. The Urban Renewal Agency and the City have been keenly aware of the fact that more and more areas in the center of town have become vacant or contain parking lots, all of which seems to hollow out the city from within. This is worrisome, since the experience throughout the United States is that the odds of having a healthy city overall are much more favorable when supported by a healthy city core.
Moscow's downtown still shows all the signs of vitality, aided by a walkable main street and popular farmer's market. The Legacy Crossing District was initiated to maintain this vitality by stimulating appropriate infill of vacant lots.
Q: Why are there so many vacant lots? Is nobody interested in doing something with the land? [more...]
Many of the vacant lots and industrial sites in the Legacy Crossing District are what we commonly call "brownfields": areas potentially contaminated with agricultural or petroleum based chemicals, which can have a detrimental impact on the rate of redevelopment.
The extent of the contamination and the required cleanup or mitigation are uncertainties that discourage investors. The Legacy Crossing District was created to help lower the threshold for private enterprise to still take on the risk of development. The two ways of doing so are to communicate the plan and the vision for the District and to provide financial incentives or initiatives to assist with mitigation efforts. In tandem, those two activities stimulate development where otherwise nothing might happen.
Q: What are the boundaries of the district? [more...]
The Legacy Crossing District is generally located between downtown Moscow and the University of Idaho campus. More detailed maps of the district can be found in the official Legacy Crossing Plan
The district envelopes the areas that have brownfields [see also: Is this district about downtown renewal? ] and includes residential and commercial areas that are connected to these areas. This encourages the district to take into effect the influence of infill on surrounding areas.
Main Street is specifically not included in the district.