Cost to Current Residents
We believe that the long term costs for annexing Avimor will be greater than the benefits received by current residents. A recent study contracted by the City of Eagle indicates that will be true.
In March of 2021 a Reimbursement Agreement was completed between Avimor and the City of Eagle. This is typically done to reimburse the City for their expenses while working on their project.
Subsequently, in May 2021, the City and TischlerBise completed an agreement for a Fiscal Impact Tool Special Run for Avimor. The agreement was for a “not to exceed” amount of $14,800. The estimated time for completion was eight weeks. The report was presented at a November 16 City Council meeting and indicated that annexation would create a deficit for the City over time.
When discussions were held previously by the City with Avimor as a prelude to possible submission of a Development Application, two economic reports were completed. One, prepared by Avimor, showed that the cost of Police and Library services for Avimor would be well covered for 30 years. That study, available in a draft by David Eberle received by Eagle January 19, 2021, utilized one-time permits and fees in its calculations to justify annexation. A similar study completed by the City at that time did not use one-time permits and fees and showed that the Development would not pay for the police or library services the City would need to provide. Applying one-time permits and fees as part of a budgeting process is not held to be good practice, but the City of Eagle has struggled with this imbalance for decades. Utilizing one-time permits and fees in this manner is not sustainable and could be very detrimental to the City in the case of a downturn or when build out occurs. We would encourage the City to pursue a strategy other than “forever growth.”
The Legislature in 2021 passed HB 389, which, among other things, limits the percentage of new construction dollars that can be included in property taxes, damaging the ability of growth to pay for itself into the future. The extent of the impact is not fully understood, but cities (other than Eagle) across Southwest Idaho are studying what they believe will be negative impacts to emergency services in the future.
Community Infrastructure Districts (CIDs)
CIDs are a complex structure, which require a lot of description here. The short story is that they are a good part, but not all, of the solution.
CIDs are created in accordance with Idaho Code Title 50 Chapter 31, which encourages the funding and construction of regional community infrastructure in advance of actual development growth. The District supports this investment through issuance of Special Assessment and General Obligation bonds that are then paid for by eventual homeowners over no more than a 30-year period. A CID does contribute substantially to helping growth pay for growth, but it is not a complete solution, as we’ll explain.
There are currently three CIDs in Idaho, all in the southwest: Harris Ranch, Spring Valley (M3) and Avimor CID #1 (Ada County). Avimor has been working toward a fourth CID for the development that will occur in Boise County, but has withdrawn its application at least once, and possibly twice.
While a CID can help with infrastructure development, unless this infrastructure remains private it will not pay for maintenance or replacement of infrastructure, including for roads. The roads in the currently developed parts of Avimor have been accepted by ACHD, so all taxpayers are paying those costs.
Further, the Avimor roads in Boise County and Gem County are even further out and will not be utilized nearly as broadly as other roads maintained by ACHD. There is a very good argument to be made for those roads (and any more) roads developed in Avimor to remain private, rather than public. This would alleviate expenses for maintenance and replacement to current Ada County residents.
Another example of the shortfalls for CIDs is that they cannot be used to address school infrastructure, as is also the case with impact fees. This will undoubtedly result in increased costs to current residents of the West Ada School District as neither impact fees nor CIDs can be used to support schools. And in the interim, traffic to current Eagle schools in the West Ada School District will be negatively impacted.
Lastly, there are current legal challenges to CIDs. The Harris Ranch CID is being challenged by residents within the district, as can be seen in these articles.
The assertion is that some housing units are being treated differently than others, which may not apply to Avimor, but it still reveals fissures in the application of CIDs. In particular, the question of what constitutes “non-fronting” residential projects and related investments in infrastructure appears to not be a settled question.
In 2020, the Ada County CID for residents of Avimor was 4.7% of their total levy. This would be somewhere around $200 in additional taxes for a $700,000 house.
Idaho does not allow schools to collect impact fees, making it very difficult for school districts to keep up with a growing population. Large developers set aside and donate land for schools, but they do not pay any of the construction or staffing costs. Avimor has expressed a willingness to donate land for future schools.
School District Choice
Children of Avimor residents living in Boise and Gem County would not be West Ada School District students by residence, but an application for Open Enrollment to a West Ada school would be an option. If a student is released from their resident school and an application for open enrollment is accepted, parents must provide transportation to the school. Currently two high schools – Rocky Mountain and Mountain View – are currently closed for Open Enrollment.
For Boise County residents of Avimor, the county assessor would assign students to a school district. According to current maps, the Horseshoe Bend School District #73 would be the resident school district for students living in the Boise County portion of Avimor. When the number of students in Avimor qualifies we understand that bus service would be provided. In the interim some type of pay in lieu of transportation costs to those families may be possible.
For information about how West Ada School District plans for new schools you can look here to see their Facility Plan here. Information about current enrollment and capacity can be reached from that page.
Eagle Fire District
Avimor is part of the Eagle Fire District. The Level of Service for Avimor at this point is 3W.
In the future, the Eagle Fire District plans to co-locate a new station with Ada County EMS in the Dry Creek Community to better serve that community, Avimor and Hidden Springs. In its budget presentation to Ada County Commissioners in 2021, the EMS representative posited that the Hidden Springs station, which was built but has never been occupied, may never be occupied. They said at that time that those plans would depend on the future plans of the North Ada County Fire District.
When the fire station is built and occupied within the Dry Creek Community, the current fire station on Floating Feather Road and Old Horseshoe Bend Road will be closed. This will increase response times for some current residents of Eagle and the Eagle Bike Park while improving response to Dry Creek, Hidden Springs and Avimor.
This growth and subsequent increases in expense will mean that the property taxes for the Eagle Fire District will continue to grow, and all residents of the District will pay for those increases.
Expenses for fire protection are the third highest percentage of property taxes in Eagle, behind Ada County and Ada County School District No. 2. As such its use of tax dollars demand a significant level of study.
Also, a recent Idaho Statesman video outlines the impact of recent legislation and their rapid growth on their ability to provide services to the community.
Emergency Medical Services
As noted above, Ada County EMS plans to co-locate with Eagle Fire at a future station in the Dry Creek community to better serve the Dry Creek, Hidden Springs and Avimor communities.
Avimor plans to contract with Ada County’s EMS for provision of paramedic services in Boise County (1700 homes), paying a dollar amount per house. That agreement has not been completed at this time.
The same model that applies to the Fire District applies here. Growth will require increases in property taxes, which will be paid by all of the residents of the County, and service levels could be affected.