Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Time for the county to deal with C4C (with a twist)

Posted By on Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Now that the state Economic Development Commission has handed Colorado Springs everything it asked for to build four tourism venues, it's time to get down to it.
click to enlarge A rendering of the Olympic museum in the foreground and the stadium in the background. - C4C WEBSITE
  • C4C website
  • A rendering of the Olympic museum in the foreground and the stadium in the background.

One of the steps toward making City for Champions happen is an official vote by the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, which already has committed to forking over $42 million during the next 30 years in county tax money for the downtown stadium/events center without a vote.

(When did that meeting take place where a majority of five made this decision? Colorado open meetings laws bar meetings of and decisions by a quorum from taking place in secret.)

Commissioners stated in three different letters to the EDC they support the project. The most recent, Nov. 7, contained the tax revenue pledge.

Anyway, county spokesman Dave Rose says that money will come from sales tax revenue, but he adds this cautionary note in a Nov. 22 e-mail:

There is the added caveat that in no event will the County’s proportional amount be greater than either that of the City of Colorado Springs or the State.

That [$1.4 million per year or $42 million] over 30 years could change as more information is available on both the total and the proportional amount of the state award, the city’s acceptance of the award and the County’s acceptance of the agreements needed between it and the “district” or “zone” established to develop and own the facilities.

In any event, County Administrator Jeff Greene tells the Independent — after yesterday's news conference called to celebrate the EDC's decision to give the city the entire request of $120.5 million — that commissioners will now schedule a vote. But not before a financial analysis is done for whether it's a wise and prudent investment for the county, Greene notes.

And who's doing this assessment? Wait for it: Economic & Planning Systems, Inc., the same consultant that advised the state EDC to give City for Champions only $53.1 million, not the higher amount. EPS has said the effort probably won't attract the out-of-state tourists the city claims it will.

Of course, the county's criteria doesn't include attraction of "net new" out of state visitors, which is a requirement of the state Regional Tourism Act, under which the money was awarded to the city. But still.

In addition, do you recall it was EPS that handed the county an economic analysis of Copper Ridge shopping center that led commissioners to deny a request for tax increment financing in March 2011?

So it will be interesting, indeed, to see the outcome of the latest EPS analysis, and to see if, like the EDC, the Board of County Commissioners ignores the findings in order to make good on their already decided position to pump county tax money into the downtown stadium projects, as stated in the letter to the EDC.

The other three City for Champions venues are a downtown Olympic museum, sports medicine center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and a new visitors center at the Air Force Academy.

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