Monday, October 22, 2012

City wants more control over Urban Renewal

Posted By on Mon, Oct 22, 2012 at 7:25 PM

Bach: Not happy with URA
  • Bach: Not happy with URA
On the orders of Mayor Steve Bach, the city has completed the investigation of the independent Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority it launched eight months ago. And it's looking for some major changes.

The Authority was established by the city in 1970 to help fund and finance projects in blighted areas. While its nine-member board is appointed by the mayor and approved by City Councilors, it is governed by Colorado state statutes and does not have to answer to the city on its budget matters. Nevertheless, it cooperated with the city investigation, which came about after several run-ins between Bach and board members.

The city report found defaulted bonds — more than were previously known of — for the University Village shopping center project. But neither the city nor the URA faces any risks due to the defaults at this time. The report also found disorganization in regard to fees for the Ivywild School project.

But perhaps most telling, the report made a series of recommendations that would bring the URA into the fold of the city.

“There are a number of areas where the City and URA can work together to improve the efforts of URA, to use resources more efficiently, and to promote coordinated, effective, and successful urban development in our community,” Bach stated in a press release.

Included in those recommendations: the URA should use free space in the City Administration Building; the city staff should perform work free of charge for the URA; the URA and the city should have combined long-term development plans; and the URA should work with the city and various interest groups to set its priorities.

Some of the recommendations could save the URA money. For instance, the URA pays $1,113 per month in rent for office space, and pays a consultant, Jim Rees, $10,000 per month.

The city did not immediately respond to requests for the cost of the investigation, but it did hire outside help from Hogan Lovells, an oft-hired firm of City Attorney Chris Melcher, to do the work.

The city release and the Hogan Lovells report are attached below:
REPORT_CSURA.pdf
CSURA_RELEASE.pdf

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