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CCDC Wants More Money For Neighborhoods, Less For Christmas Lights, Bronco Shuttle

"It's not as if we're taking away Santa."

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The Capital City Development Corporation's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2013 ($23.4 million) pales in comparison to the City of Boise's proposed spending plan ($350 million) or the budget for the Ada County Highway District ($89 million), but CCDC's fiscal wish list reveals big plans for Boise's urban core and is telling in what it includes and what's left out. In fact, 56 percent of the agency's variable budget is set aside for funding neighborhood projects.

"This is one of the quickest evolutions I've ever been a part of," said Lauren McLean, Boise City Council member and CCDC commissioner, at the agency's Aug. 13 board meeting.

In May, CCDC commissioners chose to steer Boise's urban renewal agency onto a new path by "pulling back from those activities best served by others" in order to focus on "more development and less corporation."

As a result, its proposed 2013 budget includes a 57 percent cut in consultant costs, a 15 percent drop in staffing expense, and a whopping 72 percent cut in support for other organizations.

Among the cuts is $5,000 for the Bronco shuttle, which transports Boise State football fans from downtown to Bronco Stadium on game days, and $20,000 for holiday decorations.

"These are high-profile items," said David Eberle, Boise City Council member and CCDC commissioner. "Before our support goes away, I want to make sure we're talking with the Downtown Boise Association to explore sponsorship opportunities from others. It's not as if we're taking away Santa."

CCDC Vice Chair Phil Reberger said the cuts were appropriate, part of what he called "right-sizing for CCDC."

"I'm glad we're going in this direction," he said.

CCDC Chair John May said a number of groups and businesses got "very comfortable over the years" with CCDC subsidizing decorations and courtesy shuttles.

Eberle said he agreed, but added, "I just don't know who else is going to get it done."

Meanwhile, the urban renewal agency is wrapping up FY 2012 with its most aggressive schedule to-date of streetscaping, giving facelifts to five areas of the downtown core over the next three months.

"All of these projects should be wrapped up by late November," said Katina Dutton, CCDC development manager.

She pointed to south Ninth Street, where a broken irrigation system and existing trees are being ripped out in favor of a more-porous surface and low-water plants to reduce storm water runoff. The pilot project is designed to test a more drought-tolerant streetscape. More importantly, it's expected to improve the connection to Ninth Street to Boise State.

Instead of being destroyed, some existing trees may be evaluated for potential relocation to a park in order to make way for newer appropriate trees, which would thrive better within a modernized urban setting.

CCDC is also set to install new sidewalks, trees, benches, bike racks and historic streetlights at several other locations, including Idaho Street between 14th and 15th streets and north Main, Bannock and 10th streets, all before Thanksgiving.

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