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Idaho lawmakers mull public building ban for urban renewal

A group of Idaho lawmakers is considering banning the use of urban renewal funds to bankroll public building construction projects worth more than $1 million.

However, the two Democratic lawmakers on the 10-member Urban Renewal Agency Interim Committee opposed the proposed change during the meeting Dec. 14. They argued that libraries should be exempted from the ban because they raise revenue and encourage economic development.

State Sen. Chuck Winder, a Republican from Boise, countered he’s worried that some municipalities are using urban renewal funds to bypass voter approval.

Urban renewal agencies collect taxes from improvements in their municipal districts and use that money to attract and finance new projects, particularly in blighted areas.

The interim panel will submit recommendations to the 2016 Idaho Legislature.

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