Eagle City Council now has one more puzzle piece it needs before considering annexing a planned community in the foothills to the city limits.
Avimor, a planned community rising in the foothills along Highway 55, is expected to have up to 10,000 homes fully built over the next few decades. For now, it sits at the intersection of the unincorporated counties of Ada, Boise, and Gem, but developers have been considering annexing the entire project into Eagle’s city limits since 2019.
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Critics say annexing Avimor would add thousands of new residents in need of parks, library services and police patrols to the city’s plate, potentially straining the small town’s resources . But, supporters argue, it would allow the city to levy taxes on growth that should occur anyway and have some control over development occurring outside the city limits that will impact Eagle. Nevertheless.
Short-term gains with long-term costs
Last year, Eagle commissioned a fiscal impact analysis to determine the cost of annexing the development to the city over thirty years. The report, written by the TischlerBise company, predicted that the annexation of Avimor would be a boon to the town in the short term, but would leave a deficit in later years as development developed.
Colin McAweeney, the company’s tax analyst, said the study looked at two different scenarios for the next 30 years of development. The first scenario included Eagle annexing phases 4-12 of Avimor, which have yet to be built, and the second scenario explored the impact of annexing the entire community. The study found that if the city took either route, it would result in 20,000 new residents in 30 years, a 20% increase in jobs, and a budget shortfall of $9 or $13 million.
The reason for this is that a large percentage of the City of Eagle’s budget relies on one-time fees to pay for operating costs, instead of property taxes. This means that the city would receive an influx of money as homes are built and the developer pays impact fees and other costs, but the overall property tax revenue from the properties is not high enough. to maintain on their own the services required for these houses.
“If the property tax were higher, we would be able to capture more of that tax base to offset ongoing costs, but with that restriction of the budget structure, you see high revenue when the growth starts, but you don’t get the cumulative impact of growth over the past few years,” McAweeney told Eagle City Council.
After 30 years, the TischlerBise analysis estimated that each year the city would experience a deficit of $1.8 million in operating costs. The annexation would require between 28 and 30 additional city employees, the majority of whom would need to be sheriff’s deputies to keep up with current response times and patrol frequency. This analysis also estimated a need for nearly $40 million in capital projects, 70% of which at the Parks and Recreation Department.
His calculation was based on an analysis of the city’s current levels of services in various departments, their costs, and what it would take to maintain the same level of services in a city with the thousands of additional residents that Avimor would bring. After a question from City Council Speaker Charlie Baun, McAweeney said he didn’t take into account that Avimor’s HOA fee covers upkeep and other upkeep on the property, which means that the city would not have to pay these costs.
Not so fast, says Avimor economist
Avimor has hired its own expert to give a different view.
After McAweeney addressed the city council, consulting economist and former Boise City Council member David Eberle said after analyzing the numbers from the TischlerBise study and came to a much rosier conclusion for annexation. He said the report generally came to the correct general conclusion, but miscalculated the amount of deficit the city would face if it annexed the development.
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Instead of a multimillion-dollar deficit, Eberle said his calculations showed the city would become largely revenue-neutral when construction on the project is complete. He said the city has enough resources to adequately cover additional police and other city departments, but the biggest hit will be the capital projects needed to build the park space needed for all. additional residents.
Eberle said this is not an issue specific to Avimor, but is built into the city’s financial model because the park impact fee it charges is not high enough to cover the cost of building new facilities.
“You can align the capital impact fee to your costs, or as the next step in this process, work with the developer to fix this deficiency with some of the development amenities we’re willing to provide,” said Eberle. “You can correct this problem and you can correct this problem long before 28 years and you will never see (the deficit identified by TischlerBise.) You have several years to correct this correctly and be completely 100% fixed in your parks (program d capital improvement) before the first homes come online.
Annexation = Avimor remains open to the public
The developer’s other argument is the open space integrated into the Avimor project.
Part of Avimor’s proposal includes an extensive network of pedestrian and equestrian trails, paved walking paths and acres of open natural space across the development’s 23,000 acres. The project also includes traditional park amenities, such as swimming pools, tennis courts and playgrounds.
Dan Richter, developer of Avimor, said that if Eagle takes over Avimor, the community will remain open for anyone at Eagle to use the facilities. But if it is not annexed, the doors will close.
“We have been inclusive so far and welcome everyone to come and use most of our facilities,” he told the council. “We would like to continue that, and that is why we are here in front of you.”