Border Board seeks support on housing tax incentives

Member of the Nyssa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors present a replica check of $500 for Project DOVE to Nyssa Police Sgt. Greg Armenta, third from left. The money is for the Task Force on Human Trafficking. This is in addition to the $970 raised by the bubble ball tournament held during the final evening of Thunderegg Days in July. Chamber Board members shown, from left, are Tyler  Simpson, Tawni Maxwell, president; Jason Pearson, Ruson Munk and Nikki Enders. The presentation was made during the Nyssa City Council meeting Tuesday. Looking on, far left, are Mayor Pat Oliver and council president Sue Walker.

NYSSA — Two of the programs of the Eastern Oregon Border Board to address housing needs in Malheur County include tax incentives to encourage building of new homes and to encourage improvements on existing homes within the border region.

To be able to implement those programs, the Border Board needs a substantial portion of the 29 taxing districts in the region to sign on. So far, Malheur County and Malheur Education Service District have given their support to the proposals.

The Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region and Board was created by House Bill 2012 in the Oregon Legislature to address economic struggles in the region, including the differences between Oregon and Idaho on such issues as land-use planning development. 

The region is defined as that area within 20 miles of the Oregon-Idaho border that includes the cities of Vale, Nyssa, Ontario and Adrian, plus the outlying areas of Willowcreek and Brogan and the Annex area across the Snake River from Weiser. 

Board Chairwoman Shawna Peterson has been meeting with the local government bodies to present the programs to encourage participation and explain the need.

Tuesday evening, she was at the Nyssa City Council meeting, presenting data that shows that 19.9% of Ontario population crosses the border to work while 50% of Fruitland’s population works outside of Idaho. Manufacturing accounts for 31% of employment in Fruitland, while it accounts for 10% in Ontario. 

Other comparisons for 2018 include home-building. There were 23 new homes built in Malheur County versus 138 in Payette County. For January of this year, there were 48 homes for sale in Malheur County and 60 homes in Payette County. 

To encourage the building of homes in Malheur County, the Border Board is planning to adopt the competitive Housing Incentive program which would provide $6,000 to the owner of a newly constructed home from Border Fund, the $5 million appropriated by the Legislature in HB 2012, with partial pay back from new property taxes over 10 years. In addition the homeowner could be reimbursed on their property taxes for up to $1,500 in 10 years. 

The program is for stick-built structures only, not manufactured homes, and must of a minimum assessed value of $125,000.

The total bill to the county to be repaid to the Border Fund per year per house, would be $1,800.

The property improvement rebate program is similarly structured, with a 15% cash rebate not to exceed $30,000, based on improvements to residential, commercial and industrial properties. 

Repayments will be arranged through an intergovernmental agreement with local taxing authorities and Business Oregon on behalf of the Border Board. 

Peterson told the City Council the taxing bodies will not be losing any money, but will be receiving less tax dollars in new taxes during the repayment period to Border Fund, but that those will be increase when the fund is paid off. 

The programs received support from the Nyssa Chamber of Commerce members present during the council meeting, but no action was taken.

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