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Trustees trampling constitution

by Kathy Sims
| November 26, 2010 8:00 PM

The current NIC Board of Trustees has made great plans but in their haste to see their dreams fulfilled they seem to have forgotten a pending lawsuit that challenges the Constitutionality of their actions. I stand ready to represent this community in reminding the Board that the exorbitant price they paid for the land purchase wasn't their money. The College, the NIC Foundation and the City of Coeur d'Alene appear to have cooperated with an irregular appraisal and an unseemly rush to zone it C17 (commercial for what?). The appraiser is a business partner with an NIC Board member who also sits on the Board of Mountain West Bank.

The network of developers behind this purchase has had the approval and support of the NIC Board every step of the way, so why didn't they just buy the land? This interesting "Mill Site Money Mix" apparently finds it much more profitable to avoid spending their own money - they'd rather use yours. Legally and constitutionally they could not. NIC is a taxing entity, a political subdivision of the state. Unless NIC was able to appropriate and pay for the land in one year, they must have the approval of 2/3 of the voters. NIC's Board of Trustees and the NIC Foundation chose to violate the Idaho Constitution, perhaps hoping that no one would notice.

Or care. NIC Board of Trustees decided to simply bypass the voters. NIC and the NIC Foundation entered into a "Lease" agreement to have the NIC Foundation become the shill using NIC money (taxpayer dollars) to buy the property for $10 million plus interest. NIC would then "lease" the property from the NIC Foundation. The lawsuit pending simply points out the sham used to intentionally evade the Idaho Constitutional requirements. The "lease" was an unconstitutional installment purchase plan.

To fund its $10 million purchase of the Mill site, NIC collected $2.4 million in forgone taxes from Kootenai County taxpayers, and then added $1.6 million from NIC's fund balance (taxpayer money). That left $6 million still to be funded. The NIC Foundation gave a promissory note to Mountain West Bank for a loan of the $6 million. The result ... the lender, Mountain West Bank will be paid $444,804.11 in interest ... exempt from federal taxes. I could go further into how this is possible but it is legal mumble jumble and I believe it falls under the jurisdiction of the IRS. I am convinced this is egregious enough that the IRS will certainly address it. Why do they (NIC Trustees) go to such lengths to avoid the voters? These convoluted and outright deceitful use of foundations will only cause the voters of North Idaho to doubt the truthfulness of anything the current Trustees want to do. If the results of the last elections are carefully analyzed you can be sure voters are becoming more informed all the time. The games played by taxing entities must come to a stop. The ends do NOT justify the means.We need an NIC Board of Trustees we can trust to tell us the truth. They need to cease their self indulgence and educate themselves on self-restraint under the Rule of Law.

Kathy Sims was elected earlier this month as a state representative from Coeur d'Alene.

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