Wednesday, April 2, 2014

City releases final C4C resolution

Posted By on Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 3:36 PM

click to enlarge Bach
  • Bach
Under the city's final City for Champions resolution submitted to the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade on Tuesday, the city wouldn't have to attract any specific number of events to the downtown events center.

This is a significant change in the state-approved blueprint for C4C approved on Dec. 16 that awarded the city a percentage of state sales tax increment resulting from the tourism projects, which is estimated to bring in $120.5 million over 30 years.

The money will help fund an Air Force Academy visitors center, sports medicine center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, downtown Olympic museum and sports stadium. The stadium will require nearly $100 million in mostly local tax dollars. The other venues will rely on donations and state money.

Mayor Steve Bach has run into stiff opposition of C4C from several Council members, some of whom have called for an election to allow voters to decide whether to use local tax increment financing to fund the projects. Council members have complained that Bach puts himself in charge of nearly all aspects of the projects; they also question who will bail out the projects if they fail financially.

Looking to the resolution, there are a couple of notables, including a revision that relaxes the city's obligation on events at the downtown stadium. Here's the original wording of the measure approved in December by the Economic Development Commission, emphasis added:
Before any use of RTA funds can be spent on the Colorado Sports and Event Center,
the facility must sign and provide to OEDIT, letters of intent, memorandums of
understanding, contractual agreements or other similar documents to host at least 20
Pre-Olympic and amateur sporting events
such as Olympic Time Trials, Qualifiers,
Playoffs and World Championship events that will draw participants from outside
Colorado or other events and meetings associated with the Olympic Sports National
Governing Bodies for each of the first two years of Project operations. At least 10 of
these events each year must be new to the State of Colorado
meaning that they have not been previously hosted in Colorado within 5 years prior to the opening of the
CSEC.
Here's the wording in the resolution submitted Tuesday:
As a condition of use of any Percentage of State Sales Tax Increment Revenue for the Colorado Sports and Events Center, the Applicant, in consultation with the Advisory Board, shall form or designate a Project Element Sponsor for the development, financing and construction of that Project Element. Such Project Element Sponsor will enter into agreements, letters of intent, or memoranda of understanding providing for hosting of pre-Olympic and/or world championship events during each of the first two years of the Project Element’s operation after completion, which events are intended to draw participants from outside Colorado, or other events and meetings, including but not limited to those associated with the Olympic Sports National Governing Bodies. Some of these events must be new to Colorado and not have been held within the State within the prior five years. All such documents shall be provided to the Commission within a reasonable period after execution.
We asked Jason Dunn, a Denver attorney that received a $100,000 bonus when the city's application was fully funded last year,  why the final version was vague on the numbers.

"The drafting edits were done with an eye towards ensuring that the projects have adequate flexibility going forward while still honoring the approval conditions set forth by the EDC," he writes via e-mail.

On another matter, the final resolution is silent on creating a seven-member board to oversee the Colorado Stadium and Events Center downtown next to the proposed Olympic museum, whereas the draft resolution had proposed Bach chair the panel and appoint all six members. It would appear that a Regional Tourism Advisory Board will oversee development of all four venues. From the final resolution:
The Applicant shall establish a local Regional Tourism Project Advisory Board (the “Advisory Board”) to advise the Applicant and Financing Entity on matters related to compliance with the Commission’s approval of the application and the requirements of this Resolution. The Advisory Board shall be comprised of the Mayor, the President of the City Council, the Chairperson of the El Paso County Board of Commissioners, a representative of each of the four Project Element Sponsors, and such community members appointed by the Mayor with training or expertise in matters pertaining to the Project or Project Elements. The Applicant, after consultation with the Advisory Board, shall advise the Financing Entity concerning the allocation of funding to Project Elements and enter into all necessary contracts.
Councilman Joel Miller, who's been skeptical of C4C, noted the final resolution still doesn't address the fact that the City Charter vests appointment and creation of city boards and commissions with Council. The resolution allows the mayor to appoint many of the advisory board's members and make himself a co-chair.

On a similar topic, Miller states:
Although the semantics were changed, the Mayor STILL gets to, with the Board he appoints, determine a "Project Element Sponsor" for the CSEC. The Project Element Sponsor is authorized (now in Section 8B) to enter into agreements with the "Applicant" (City with the Mayor authorized to act on behalf of the City) to determine among other things, the ownership for the stadium that, in the current financial plan will be 100% publicly funded (16% by the State and 84% by local public funds—$196 million with interest). This is unacceptable.
Reacting to a March 25 editorial in the Colorado Springs Business Journal, Council President Keith King released this statement today:
click to enlarge King: Thinking about the future.
  • King: Thinking about the future.
The only correct statement in the Business Journal’s March 25 editorial, ‘Time to battle C4C opponents,’ was: ‘With the city and the Colorado EDC facing a deadline for finalizing their contract and moving forward, the time is now. Not a few months down the line or later in the year. As soon as possible.’

The time to change the resolution for the establishment of the City for Champions is now. The time to ensure that it has the appropriate checks and balances and that it meets the necessary requirements for transparency and accountability to the people of this city and county is now. The time to rewrite the resolution in order to find an appropriate balance of governance structures, based on the collaborative process which has already begun, and the extent of financial participation and/or responsibility of relevant entities is now. Not a few months down the line or later in the year. The time is now. Before the April 16 deadline.

Now is the time to think about the future of Colorado Springs and the City for Champions project. And, it is the right time to begin researching financing solutions. The following projects are anticipating that they will not need local financing: the Air Force Academy’s Visitor’s Center, the Olympic Museum and the UCCS sports medicine facility; however, the sports event complex and parking garage will need local financing.

As Commissioner Dennis Hisey and I stated in our March 17 letter to the Mayor ‘…we envision the process of vetting the Sports and Events Complex as requiring a minimum of 12 months, which will include maximizing the opportunities for private investment.’

Furthermore, the time is now for a cooperative view and to reach solutions. That’s why the resolution—even the amended one—with the Economic Development Commission must be collaborative and signed by all three governing entities.”
UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said two weeks ago she had concerns about the draft resolution, as we reported. But she issued a statement today that indicates revisions were made that satisfied her.

"Input from the university was provided to the drafters of the resolution," she says. "The input resulted in appropriate changes in the draft that were sent to the Office of Economic Development and International Trade [Tuesday]. I look forward to comments from OEDIT. UCCS is ready to move forward as soon as the resolution is agreed to between the state and the applicant. I appreciate the process that allowed the university to have input into the resolution and will look forward to responding to any comments from OEDIT."

Here's the final resolution:
EDC_Resolution_-_Final__10977644-4_.pdf
 The Economic Development Commission will meet via conference call April 10 at 11 a.m.

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