Idaho Judge Denies GBAD's Finance Scheme (Again) For New Convention Facility

by

HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
The Greater Boise Auditorium District has had its knuckles rapped one more time by an Idaho judge who says GBAD continues to try to make an end-run around the Idaho Constitution. The auditorium district has been trying to find a way to fund its piece of the renovation of the Boise Centre, which includes the construction of a new ballroom/banquet facility for GBAD.

"The devil is in the details," wrote 4th District Judge Melissa Moody in an August 2014 ruling, insisting that GBAD was trying to circumvent the Constitution by paying the Capital City Development Corporation, which in turn would finance the project through millions of dollars in bonds. The judge ruled that the deal "violated the spirit and purposes of the [Idaho] constitutional limitation against indebtedness."  Article VIII, Subsection 3, of the Idaho Constitution reads, "no county, city, board of education, or school district, or other subdivisions of the state, shall incur any indebtedness...without the assent of two-thirds of the qualified electors."

In November 2014, GBAD directors voted to continue pursuing a so-called "petition for judicial confirmation" to approve financing for the project, instead of going to voters to approve indebtedness. Boise Guardian editor Dave Frazier continued to bring action against GBAD's end-run.

And in yet another ruling, March 23, Judge Norton denied GBAD's plan one more time.

"The lease, as formulated, subjects the District to significant liabilities beyond the year in which the contract is incurred," wrote Norton March 23. "The District argues that such liability is not beyond the income and revenue provided for it for a given year, because the District currently has sufficient funds and anticipated income to cover the entire expense of the new facilities and lease agreement. The District even has adopted a resolution committing available general funds for 2015 to cover the purchase price of the new facilities. However, this argument is fleeting: if the money is dedicated but not actually used in 2015, there is no guarantee that it will be available for the renewal of the lease in 2016, 2017, or beyond. The District may either use the funds to pay for the new facilities up front, or it may submit the long term liabilities to the qualified voters int he District. But the Court will not confirm the lease agreement as currently presented to the Court."

Frazier said he was gratified that his legal staff had prevailed once again, but "I am concerned that members of the Auditorium District Board continue to spend large sums of public money in efforts to deny citizens a vote on the auditorium expansion plans."


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