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Silver Mountain auction delayed

Sealed bids for the Kellogg, Idaho ski and waterpark resort are now due March 19. The auction was pushed back a month from Feb. 12.

The managers of the auction, Waterford Development Corp. in Needham, Mass. and AmeriBid LLC of Tulsa, Okla., extended the date to “allow sufficient time for interested bidders to do their due diligence on the resort property,” according to a news release.

The Silver Mountain Resort will be available in three distinct pieces or those interested can include two or all three properties in one bid.

The first piece includes the indoor waterpark and Morningstar Lodge, which includes the management division for nearly 300 condominiums.

The second piece of property includes the ski and mountain operations, including a restaurant, retail and commercial space.

The third property includes the Galena Ridge Golf Course, home building sites and other remaining assets.

By Scott Ki

House passes new jobs tax credit

The Idaho House approved legislation that gives businesses a new jobs tax credit.

Under the proposal passed Feb. 14 on a 62-7 vote, companies that generate new jobs would receive a benefit for each new employee they hire. They would get a bonus $1,000 if they fill a new position with a veteran of the armed services.

Republican Rep. Mike Moyle, of Star, said depending on the number of jobs, the credit would cost Idaho approximately $10.4 million next year.

He said the measure gives Idaho an incentive to attract new companies. He said the state would also collect revenue in the short-term when new workers pay sales tax on goods they buy.

Legislators who opposed the bill said it’s not the job of the state to pick winners and losers.

The Associated Press

Idaho foreclosures continue to drop

Idaho’s foreclose rate dropped 37 percent from December to January and the state is getting closer to the middle of the pack among U.S. states. Idaho ranked 20th in foreclosure rate in January, down from 14th in December, according to real estate data firm RealtyTrac.

One out of every 1,214 Idaho housing units had foreclosure activity in January, a total of 545 properties. The majority of foreclosed properties were in the Treasure Valley, with 205 in Ada County and 138 in Canyon County.

Nationally, one out of every 869 housing units was in foreclosure in January, a 28 percent drop from the year prior. Florida, Nevada and Illinois posted the highest state foreclosure rates. Neighboring states Washington and Utah also had higher foreclosure rates than Idaho.

IBR Staff

U.S. Ecology reports record profit

U.S. Ecology, a Boise-based hazardous and waste management company, announced record profits for 2012.

Sales increased from $154.9 million in 2011 to $169.1 million in 2012, an increase of 9 percent. Revenue from treatment and disposal operations increased 13 percent during the year. Sales of transportation services declined by 9 percent.

Profit grew by 40 percent from $18.4 million in 2011 to $25.7 million in 2012. Based on the company’s income statement, lower transportation costs and gains in foreign currency exchange contributed to increased profit for the year.

According to Ecology, currency transactions involve intercompany loans with a Canadian subsidiary which have been established as part of the company’s tax and treasury management strategy. As a result, the company provides information on adjusted earnings to highlight its operating performance. These adjustments complement other information that conforms to generally accepted accounting principles in the United States.

The company underwent a significant change in management with the removal of CEO James R. Baumgardner in October. Jeffrey R. Feeler became acting president and chief operating officer. During a conference call with analysts Feb. 14, Feeler said the company’s board is not searching for a new CEO.

 By Scott Ki

Coeur d’Alene Mines Bids on Orko Silver

Northern Idaho-based Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. has offered to buy Orko Silver Corp. of Canada in a deal valued at $382 million.

This bid puts pressure on First Majestic Silver Corp. of Vancouver, British Columbia. The Canadian company reached a tentative agreement to acquire Orko in December.

First Majestic executives have until Feb. 19 to match Coeur’s proposal.

If Coeur’s offer stands, Orko shareholders will have the option to choose a combination of cash, Coeur stock, and warrants to purchase Coeur stock.

The successful buyer will control Orko’s La Preciosa silver project near Durango, Mexico. La Preciosa holds silver resources on the order of 99 million ounces indicated and 140 million ounces inferred, according to Coeur’s President and CEO Mitchell J. Krebs during a conference call with analysts.

Indicated resources are derived from mineral samples and are used to estimate the amount of metal, grade and other physical characteristics. Measured resources are indicated resources that have undergone further sampling with a higher degree of confidence.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.

By Scott Ki

House approves amendments to animal cruelty bill

Lawmakers are looking to toughen animal abuse laws by making it a felony for anyone convicted for a third time of torturing a domestic animal.

The House Agricultural Affairs Committee approved a bill Feb. 12 that also defines torture.

The bill supplements a 2012 law that made a third conviction of animal cruelty a felony and toughened cockfighting penalties.

The new provisions — which have the support of the Humane Society — would apply the torture of dogs, cats and other pets.

The additions don’t apply to livestock, but some lawmakers questioned if the bill is the next step to even tighter restrictions.

Rep. Ken Andrus of Lava Hot Springs said the legislation is intended to avoid tougher laws that could emerge in ballot initiatives pushed by animal rights activists.

The Associated Press

House Oks lifting cold-call ban on telecoms

The House voted overwhelmingly for Idaho to lift a 13-year-old restriction barring phone and cable TV companies from calling existing customers to market new products or services.

The floor vote Feb. 13 was 65 to 5 to send the measure to the Senate.

A single Republican, Rep. Maxine Bell of Jerome, opposed the bill, which had also been panned by the Idaho attorney general’s office as an unwanted intrusion on people’s privacy.

The House majority, however, agreed with phone companies including Frontier Communications and Century Link Inc. that it’s unfair to forbid them from calling their customers to sell them new, faster Internet service.

Customers can still ask not to be bothered.

In 2000, phone companies were singled out with the restriction by Idaho lawmakers who worried they would abuse their monopoly.

The Associated Press

House introduces bill limiting overseas voters

Voters who once lived in Idaho but now reside overseas could soon be barred from casting ballots in local elections.

The House State Affairs committee introduced legislation Feb. 13 that keeps former Idahoans who live abroad indefinitely from voting in city council or other municipal elections.

Federal absentee laws would allow those citizens to vote in national elections. The bill would not bar military personnel from voting in local races.

Coeur d’Alene Republican Rep. Kathleen Sims says the goal is to prevent voter fraud. In a neck-and-neck 2009 city council race, at least four Canadians cast ballots. A lawsuit on that case was ultimately decided by the Idaho Supreme Court.

Sims introduced a similar bill last year to tighten standards for absentee ballots, but it bill died on the House floor.

The Associated Press

Audit: Budgeting error caused school shortfall

An independent financial audit of the Nampa School District confirmed that a budgeting error and not fraud led to the district’s financial crisis.

Consultant Jae Hallett told board members Feb. 12 that the district counted almost $3 million in one-time money twice and had an over-expenditure of about $1 million, leading to the $4.3 million shortfall.

He says many people are culpable for the error, and added that most no longer work for the district. The superintendent resigned in September and the deputy superintendent in November.

Hallett recommended the board monitor expenses more closely because the district has overspent its budget in the past, violating state law. He also recommended creating a reserve fund of about $3.5 million.

Interim Superintendent Tom Michaelson urged the community to support a $4.3 million supplemental levy.

The Associated Press

Idaho Senate panel OKs new oil and gas regulator

Idaho’s oil and natural gas industry is a step closer to getting new regulators after a Senate panel approved a shakeup of the state’s Oil and Natural Gas Commission.

Currently, the Idaho Land Board, with Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and the attorney general, secretary of state, controller and public schools superintendent, regulate the industry.

A newly constituted panel, approved unanimously by the Senate Resources and Environment Committee on Wednesday, would have five governor-appointed members.

One person would have knowledge of drilling, another with geology experience and another technical expertise in water issues.

There would also be two landowners, one with and one without mineral leases.

The idea is to put decision-making in the hands of people with deeper knowledge of the issues, while reducing elected officials’ conflicts of interest.

The Associated Press



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