The Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency (KURA) was formed in 2006 by the city government to focus on downtown revitalization, community housing, and public and private investments. Like other urban renewal agencies around the country, the KURA is an independent organization with its own budget, by-laws and Board of Commissioners.
Since 2006, the KURA’s emphasis has been on the installation of public improvements so as to encourage private investment and development. KURA’s role varies from project to project, but can include planning, advocating, facilitating, partnering, managing facilities, developing, and investing.
Among the KURA’s accomplishments to date are:
- Investments in the development of the Downtown Master Plan and the 2010 Urban Renewal Plan
- Investment in the development of the Fourth Street Heritage Corridor
- Purchase of, and improvements to, two strategic properties: 491 Sun Valley Rd (the new Visitors Center/Starbucks) and 211 East First Street (earmarked for future community housing)
- Annual funding of Ketchum Wifi
The KURA, like most other urban renewal agencies around the country, is funded through a taxing concept called tax increment financing. The basic idea is simple: future tax revenues pay for revitalization and redevelopment efforts. The City Council, acting on the recommendation from the KURA, draws a line around an area in need of improvement within the city called the revenue allocation area. As property values increase in that area due to new investment, the rise in property tax revenues (called “tax increment”) is directed back to the KURA rather than to other taxing bodies. The lifespan of the KURA is 24 years, and will be dissolved in 2030. However, URA terms can be extended to the period of time required to pay off bonds or project costs.
As a new organization in 2006, the KURA had no funds available for projects because no property tax revenue had been collected. So, like many young URAs, the KURA jump-started its revitalization efforts by borrowing money. In 2010, the KURA refinanced the debt by issuing municipal bonds and repaying the initial three lenders. For the past five years, the KURA has collected property taxes, and is now using that revenue for repayment of the debt and general operations.