Wednesday, November 13, 2013

City's revised Champs plan: Is it enough?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 3:05 PM

We just obtained the city's revised application for state sales tax rebates for four tourism attractions. Included in the city's revised City for Champions application is a letter of commitment written by Mayor Steve Bach saying how the city will pony up money for the project (emphasis the Indy's):

click to enlarge Logo.png
November 8, 2013

Mr. Ken Lund
Executive Director
Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade
1625 Broadway, Suite 2700
Denver, CO 80202
RE: Colorado Springs RTA Application - City for Champions

Dear Mr. Lund:

The purpose of this letter is to provide clarification regarding the City of Colorado Springs commitment to provide the public funding identified in the City for Champions RTA application. I want to reiterate my support and enthusiasm for our application to enhance tourism to our great State of Colorado through attracting new visitors to Colorado Springs. The City can provide funding from the following sources:

 Utilizing existing bond capacity
 Increases in general fund revenues
 City sales tax increment revenues from City for Champions
 City Parking Enterprise System
 Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority dedicated funding

Currently, the City has approximately $83 million in debt. Over the next few years that indebtedness will fall to approximately $50 million. By City Charter, the debt cap is approximately $400 million. The City has substantial bonding capacity that can be utilized in support of City for Champions project components.

The Executive Branch also expects additional general fund revenues to become available through continued growth in the local economy and tax base, as well as additional revenue generated through efficiencies in municipal government.

As the State is doing, I will support using a portion of our local sales tax increment from the City for Champion’s projects to fund a portion of the public investment. Estimates of the City sales tax revenues accruing from City for Champions are $174M over 30 years.

The City is committed to utilizing the municipally owned Parking Enterprise System in support of RTA projects. The Parking Enterprise currently has bonding capacity that can be dedicated to the construction of the 1,500 car parking structure included in the City for Champions application.

There is currently $2.12M included in the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority approved budget for funding a portion of the America the Beautiful Park Bridge.

The City is committed to utilizing any and all of the sources described above to fully finance the public funding identified in the City for Champions Regional Tourism Act application. Thank you for the opportunity to provide the clarifying information above. We look forward to working with you, OEDIT staff, and the Economic Development Commission through the remainder of the Regional Tourism Act application process.

Sincerely,

Steve Bach
Mayor

What the letter doesn't say is that before using that "substantial bonding capacity," Bach has pledged to get voter approval. (Perhaps such a note is elsewhere in the revision.) Not that doing so would be a problem, judging from the poll below — also submitted with the revised application — that shows half of the local population doesn't know much about City for Champions, but supports it by a big majority.

10_-_CSCRA_City_for_Champions_Polling_Memo_V3_131107_copy_2.pdf

The proposal calls for a downtown events center and Olympic museum, sports medicine center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and an Air Force Academy Visitors Center closer to Interstate 25.

The first round of analysis concluded that the UCCS piece was too underdeveloped to assess. Analysts also said the city's proposal wouldn't raise the state sales tax revenue as predicted, recommending that it receive just $31.4 million of the $174 million requested, as we reported today.

Backers of the proposal were to hold a news briefing today or tomorrow, but now that's been put off until Friday, says Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Doug Price, who's had a pivotal role in creating the proposal.

So you can see some more of the revisions for yourself, we've included a few other pieces of the city's newest submission.

Here's the city's 58-page response that includes a letter stating:

The City for Champions RTA Application team and its professional analysts have had an opportunity to review the preliminary “Third Party Analyst Evaluation: Colorado Springs RTA Application” prepared by EPS dated October 28, 2013. We appreciate the effort and attention EPS gave to their analysis and the City for Champions RTA Application Team is responding with the following additions and clarifications.

2_-_COS_EPS_Preliminary_Response.pdf
Then, the city provides a bunch of tables that show changes in forecasting of attendance and how much sales tax would be generated by the four new projects.

3_-_Tables_Revised.pdf
Lastly, here are the "commitment letters" the city was able to muster, among them Bach's pledge.

4_-__Letters_of_Commitment.pdf
A decision on the city's proposal is due in December.

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