Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Public should vote on stadium, councilman says

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 3:52 PM

click to enlarge Miller: Let the people decide. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Miller: Let the people decide.
At the start of yesterday's City Council meeting, Councilor Joel Miller continued his campaign to put to a public vote the idea of local tax money funding the City for Champions' downtown stadium.

Here's his statement in full:
Building a stadium does not fall under the role of government, but in the
latest City for Champions financing plan approved by the State, $200 million
in local public money would be spent on the downtown stadium. That money
would come from city sales tax collections at more than 9,000 cash registers
located throughout 90% of our city. The plan also has money coming from our
Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, our Southwest Downtown Urban
Renewal Area and our Parking Enterprise.

Building a stadium does not fall under the role of government, but City
money is already being thrown at the City for Champions stadium. The initial
Regional Tourism Act Application cost 75,000 taxpayer dollars. The Summit
Economic data cost 45,000 taxpayer dollars. The Sky Sox survey cost 35,000
taxpayer dollars
. The Mayor commissioned a Ball-Park Feasibility Study that
cost 20,000 taxpayer dollars. Hogan Lovells law firm was paid 28,000
taxpayer dollars
for stadium authority legal work and an additional 6,000
taxpayer dollars
for other City for Champions legal work. Kutak Rock law
firm will be paid 10,000 taxpayer dollars for even more City for Champions
legal work. And an outrageous amount of staff time has been spent on the
City for Champions stadium-again, a project for which government should have
no role, and yet our roads are covered in potholes and we're told we don't
have money to water our parks.

Proponents say the State is paying for most of City for Champions. That's
simply untrue. The State's portion, at most, would cover 19% of the cost.

Mayor Bach has repeatedly said that City for Champions wasn't his idea. He
said private individuals came to him with the idea. How about we let those
private individuals, then, take over the planning of the projects, instead
of our City staff? And when those private individuals who contacted Mayor
Bach have their City for Champions plan together, and if that plan involves
the use of any public funds, they can then present the taxpayers with their
complete plan. And they can then ask the taxpayers, via a public vote,
whether they'd like to use public money for the City for Champions stadium.

After hearing from thousands of citizens, I believe that a public vote is
the only fair and equitable way to approach a project that does not fall
under the role of government, but has, and will most likely continue to,
reach into public wallets.

For this reason, I will submit for review and discussion at the next Council
work session, September 8th, a proposed draft ordinance that would place a
measure on the April municipal ballot
. The measure, if approved by Council
for the ballot, would allow voters to decide to amend our City Charter to
include a section that requires prior voter approval of any City stadium and
event center. The language is very much like Section 11-70 which simply
requires an honest and forthright presentation to voters of pertinent
financial information before the City takes on a convention center project.

Many of the very excellent reasons that prominent proponents of the 2005
convention center measure supported Charter language that overwhelmingly
passed are still absolutely pertinent today. The proposed stadium measure
will in no way prevent a stadium from being built, but will make clear that
using public funding of any kind to do so, must first be transparently and
honestly presented to voters for consideration.
We asked Mayor Steve Bach's communications department for a comment but haven't heard back. When and if we do, we'll circle back with those comments.

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