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Comment Archives: Stories

Re: “Suthers plays defense on tax hike

From the Council's resolution regarding the stadium and TIF (per Liberty's link):
Section 7. Under state law, any use of City property tax or sales tax increment financing by the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority is subject to City Council approval in connection with the approval of an urban renewal area and an urban renewal plan. Accordingly, voter approval under this Resolution shall not, unless otherwise required by law, affect those state law procedures for authorization of City property tax and sales tax increment financing through the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority.

After reading Section 7 seven times, and meditating between readings, this appears to say that State law authorizes the URA to siphon off City sales tax revenue without the voters consent. Section 7 also says that TIF requires City Council approval. But since the Council is packed with stadium supporters and TIF approvees, the URA will get the sales tax to build a stadium.

And Section 6 appears to say that TIF cannot be collected from 90% of the City because 90% of the City is not blighted, regardless of how many potholes, sinkholes, and tall weeds abound.

On the other hand, I'm not a lawyer or a scholar or a politician or author of the article in question, so I may be mistaken in my interpretation of the meaning of the Council's resolution. Perhaps Councilman Pico would be kind enough to comment on this document?

15 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by curious on 08/16/2015 at 5:11 PM

Re: “Defining downtown

Stetson Hills and Gleneagle should each just be their own cities. They already think they are anyway. They should be deannexed.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by dp72 on 08/16/2015 at 3:48 PM

Re: “Suthers plays defense on tax hike

As Liberty notes, City Council's resolution states "there would be no vote for a stadium paid for by City tax dollars diverted to the Urban Renewal Authority." Well, this previously unpublicized news is surprising, shocking, and outrageous, but we can't complain that this is taxation without representation, since this resolution comes from the people's representatives on the Council. The resolution stated - and the mayor affirmed - that if the City contributed any tax dollars for the stadium, the citizens will vote on it. BUT the resolution also stated that tax dollars collected from retail sales throughout 90% of COS and diverted to the URA are NOT City tax dollars and therefore the citizens will NOT vote on it. Is this a wonderful example of City Leaders and the selfless civic minded developer working together in unison to make COS the second-best city in Colorado if not a major contender for best mid-sized city in America? Or is this theft of the public purse on a grandiose scale?

How do normally mild-mannered and respectful-of-authority citizens stop City Leaders from building a stadium using our tax dollars without our say so? Should we . . . Hold a recall election to rid the Council of these tax thieves? Organize a citizen revolt? Sharpen the guillotine blades? Or sue the City? The attractive aspect of suing is that if the lawsuit was not settled before the 5-year construction deadline stipulated by the State, the stadium would not be built.

16 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by curious on 08/16/2015 at 3:14 PM

Re: “Defining downtown

So what's the purpose of this article? No conclusion reached. No thought boundary pushed. No call to action. Did I just read someone's 7th grade English assignment? Is this a glimpse into what the new Indy editors have in store? The comments have much more relevance than the article.

2 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by PacksA9 on 08/16/2015 at 2:45 PM

Re: “Defining downtown

Maybe the issue is that we need to think of our area as an interconnected and interdependent body. As noted in the article, across every city there are hubs that create their own "downtown." Some revitalization is necessary for certain areas of town that have fallen into disrepair. Yet, just because you have a headache doesn't mean you neglect the rest of your body. Everything needs to work in harmony. Right now the focus needs to be on our arteries--the roads and infrastructure throughout the entire body. People, not things, create great working and living spaces. Ensure a healthy, safe and vibrant area and it will become strong and flourish. Areas that prosper are where a diverse group (age, gender, socio-economic,etc.) all live and work. Downtown COS lacks that. Regulations, staid ideas of stadiums, trying to be like Denver or Boulder, the focus on vast development instead of new infill and not respecting our city's value are why our downtown isn't attractive to residents or tourists.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Vikki Haas Walton on 08/16/2015 at 2:32 PM

Re: “Defining downtown

I remember being on a SCIP committee many many years ago. ...The "leader/moderator" asked the group what IDEAS WE BRING TO THE TABLE ... well several suggested m as you state here that there were several area beside downtown that need attention and commitment by the City..... end result, our ideas were ignored as America the Beautiful Park was rolled out ... end result was fine BUT THE PROCESS WAS FLAWED. ... it was a fait compli and many of us remain disillusioned by the grand poohbahs that steer our community

7 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by actionjackson on 08/16/2015 at 1:56 PM

Re: “Defining downtown

New businesses are moving into the COS airport as well as to north and northeast COS. Their decision to locate in areas 10 or more miles away from downtown indicates that a lack of a downtown stadium and skyscrapers was not a deterrent. If the voters say No to a sales tax increase, then streets throughout COS that will not be repaired because tax revenue will be diverted to build a stadium and its infrastructure - which together will cost upwards of $300M - IS a deterrent to attracting new businesses and jobs.

The stadium will be built in downtown, not in OCC or Manitou, which are doing just fine without stadiums. The claim that "our downtown is absolutely critical" is a definite Maybe. But to claim, as City Leaders do, that a stadium is absolutely critical to revive downtown is a definite No.

10 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by curious on 08/16/2015 at 12:49 PM

Re: “Defining downtown

Re-reading this (post edits) and some of the emphasis has decreased... You shouldn't take this as Downtown is not important, Curious. You should read this as our downtown is absolutely critical, but the other places are as well.
Downtown, Old Colorado City and Manitou are viewed by non-locals as downtown. When potential businesses or residents, look for their future home or headquarters, if the downtown (even if perceived) is rundown, that reflects poorly on the whole community.

3 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by JO_Urbanist on 08/16/2015 at 12:25 PM

Re: “Suthers plays defense on tax hike

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker just signed a law to issue $250 million in bonds to fund the construction of a new arena in Milwaukee. Even the Koch brothers have condemned the deal!

0 likes, 14 dislikes
Posted by Mr. K-- on 08/16/2015 at 12:24 PM

Re: “Suthers plays defense on tax hike

TruB--PPRTA does produce an annual financial report. It is normally available at their website, but the site appears to be down. It is in those reports that it can be verified that the City has underspent its maintenance allocation by a cumulative total of over $15 million over the last four years. The PPRTA allocates dollars to the member entities who have some flexibility as to how to use the "maintenance" dollars and some of those entities have used maintenance dollars to purchase vehicles. It has been a contentious issue with citizens whether that's a misuse of the dollars. PPRTA funds are also being used to pay for parking and fuel for those vehicles. The last report shows PPRTA "admin" costs to be under what was promised in the ballot initiative.

However, even with issues such as these, it is much more difficult to misuse PPRTA funds than a blank check to the City because there is oversight. In the new form of government, it appears not even City Council has any oversight on how the City spends money. If the sales tax increase passes, expect to see a great deal of contortions on just what exactly the dollars can be used for. Mayor Suthers said in a recent interview that it would be a "great deal" if the City simply had to build "curb and gutter" for a new stadium. The context there is that the C4C application to the state has City taxpayers footing over $129 million in infrastructure. Put that together with the Council resolution specifically saying there would be no vote for a stadium paid for by City tax dollars diverted to the Urban Renewal Authority (see Section 7: https://coloradosprings.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=3446249&GUID=D7253430-8A43-4D7A-9C68-66341CB976F4) and one can see how well the new slate of elected officials is working to perpetuate corporate welfare for their campaign financiers to the detriment of of core functions of the City.

19 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Liberty for COS on 08/16/2015 at 11:23 AM

Re: “Defining downtown

As recently as 60 years ago, COS had a downtown, a commercial and business and theatre area with Acacia as its central park and trains and trolleys carrying citizens in and out of its transportation hub. THAT downtown was demolished in the first great wave of "revitalization" in the 1960s. Today, City Leaders think that by building skyscrapers in the URA for govt offices, lawyers, and rich retirees, COS can once again call that small area between Acacia and ATB parks "downtown." City Leaders don't realize or won't accept the fact that the parade has passed by - times have changed - cities are not what they used to be.

As Olson says, COS now has numerous downtowns. And the people in all the outlying areas with their own downtowns benefit not a smidgeon from the spending of $200M taxpayer dollars in Step 1 of City Leaders herculean effort to "revitalize" THEIR downtown. Spending $200M of sales tax revenue will benefit the developer and property owners (the developer owns 19 of these properties) and a few Tejon business owners (maybe) and some new businesses near the stadium. A few will benefit. The many will pay. Pay $200M that should be spent on repairing the streets, which would benefit ALL, and eliminate the need for a sales tax increase.

Why squander resources on stadiums and skyscrapers? Why not turn all those dormant URA blocks into a low-income housing neighborhood? The Tiny House Jamboree last weekend presented a dozen or more tiny houses, demonstrating that it is feasible that dwellings this tiny - which can cost as little as $20K - can be starter homes for young professionals and a multitude of others who want and need affordable housing. Last year's EcoCabin presentation was a 396sf small house with a large back deck that was roomy enough for a family of 4. An influx of owners of small and tiny houses and micro apartments in the URA would be good for the restaurants and retail businesses on Tejon. Such a neighborhood could even be a tourist attraction. Why not give serious attention to THIS alternative use of the URA?

11 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by curious on 08/16/2015 at 10:17 AM

Re: “Suthers plays defense on tax hike

PPRTA doesn't produce a real annual report they publish a news letter. They make the claim they have never gone over budget because money is moved to a project to cover when the cost is more than the original estimate. PPRTA was sold to the voters using the word sunset and then they hoped 10 years later no one would remember that the ONLY sunset was the list of projects and that the PPRTA tax NEVER sunsets. The PPRTA was to have ZERO employees and ZERO administration costs and sure shouldn't be owning trucks or buying trucks.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by TruB on 08/16/2015 at 9:15 AM

Re: “Suthers plays defense on tax hike

Mr. Pico We dont doubt theres no money there but with all due respect may I have a question? Was those leftover funds spent on the earmarked projects? Or were they moved around to fill shortfalls of other things? Thats a straight out question how about a straight out answer.

17 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Rocky Smith on 08/15/2015 at 4:19 PM

Re: “Suthers plays defense on tax hike

With all due respect, Councilman Pico, by what means did you "check" on those funds? Were copies of contracts executed within the fiscal years offered as evidence? If so, it would be beneficial to public to have those contracts itemized and released so that citizens can "check" as well before voting to give themselves a tax increase. Is there a suggestion that NONE of the unspent $6,023,467 from the 2011-2014 City budgets went back into reserves? Have you also seen contracts accounting for the $15,457,838 unspent from the PPRTA maintenance budgets? In past public discussions on the subject, City Finance was not able to provide evidence other than generalities that "they were probable spent" and they did not have the means to track funds to level of detail. This is not to doubt your integrity, but a phone call to City Finance or Public Works with verbal assurance does not refute the publicly filed reports that show otherwise.

As of this point, the only public documents available (CAFR) show unspent funds year after year with no documents showing those funds to have been legally encumbered. Links to the documents have been provided. Same for PPRTA funds (though their website is currently down). There had been a dust-up over PPRTA funds not spent in the past and the City merely presented "plans" of what they'd like to do with funds. Yet no contracts were even presented to the PPRTA Citizens' Advisory Council for approval of the expenditure of the funds.

City Council could direct the City Auditor to conduct a thorough report on the detailed fate of every dollar allocated to streets. That document--if released--would be one that could support your statement and perhaps a tax increase. The Office of the City Auditor is one of the few City entities over which Council maintains control in the new form of government, right?

22 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Liberty for COS on 08/15/2015 at 4:09 PM

Re: “Suthers plays defense on tax hike

Liberty for COS, I did check on those funds. The projects were not completed so the funds were allocated but pending disbursement, however you want to phrase it.

Those funds were spent on project completion.

There are no funds not spent. Period.

4 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by Andres Pico on 08/15/2015 at 2:36 PM

Re: “Suthers plays defense on tax hike

Thanks to Councilman Pico for eliciting this response from Liberty. A sales tax increase will certainly bring in more dollars for street repair than can be spent during the collection period. Unspent dollars will accumulate. Since "the executive branch, under the charter and City Code can move dollars within a department without asking Council or notifying the public", the temptation to use those dollars for other projects - such as partnering with a developer to build urgently needed skyscrapers in the URA - will be difficult to resist by the mayor and council majority who share City Leaders ideas of transforming the COS skyline into a replica of Denver's.

But first things first. City Leaders must get their hands on the dollars needed to build a downtown stadium. No private zillionair philanthropists have stepped up to the pitching mound announcing they will finance the stadium project. They've run the numbers and refuse to buy a poisoned apple. All the money needed - $200M - will come from the taxpayers, and TIF will enable City Leaders to take the money they need without a vote. The duped public will be forced to eat the poisoned apple as well as pay for the privilege. This is how govt of the people, by the people, and for the people is practiced by our elected public "servants", and by those who spent mega bucks to put their chosen public servants into a position of power over the people.

19 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by curious on 08/15/2015 at 2:04 PM

Re: “Suthers plays defense on tax hike

This is very simple. No sales tax increase for any reason while public funding for City for Champions is alive.

25 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by PacksA9 on 08/15/2015 at 11:12 AM

Re: “Homelessness easing, potholes tax headed to ballot, and more

COnative59- How is adding even more 'social and legal system impact' to Colorado Springs the right course of action? Perhaps the better choice would be for Colorado Springs to invoice Manitou for the social and legal system impact of THEIR irresponsible retail MJ decision.

0 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by PacksA9 on 08/15/2015 at 11:06 AM

Re: “Suthers plays defense on tax hike

Thank you Councilman Pico. However, unless a contract is executed during the fiscal year in which the money is appropriated, by law the budgeted amount reverts to the unrestricted fund balance. Once there, unless those unexpended funds are re re-appropriated the following year ON TOP OF the funds for that following year--that's where the money stays.

City finance and administration use a lot of words like "encumbered," "planned," "projected" to explain away the year-after-year failure to spend both City and PPRTA budgeted funds on roads. But the City has not and cannot produce the only thing that would legally encumber those funds to be spent "later." I challenge the administration to prove that those dollars were legally encumbered. In the case of PPRTA, at least the unspent funds stay in the City's PPRTA maintenance allocation and can only be spent on that in the future. In the case of the City's budget--dollars in the reserve could be used for ANYTHING Council decides to appropriate it for.

It appears that Council spends a lot of time poring over the budget, but how much time do they spend poring over the execution of the previous budget? As you must know, a budget ordinance is only the AUTHORIZATION to spend the money, it cannot mandate the money gets spent. Furthermore, the executive branch, under the charter and City Code can move dollars within a department without asking Council or notifying the public. So the "Consolidated Annual Financial Report" (CAFR) that gets quietly released six months after the end of the fiscal year in June should be a critical component for Council as you prepare for the following year's budget.

Demand that the administration specifically account for unspent dollars. For that matter, demand answers on budget lines that grew. In the 2013 CAFR the expended amount for legal expenses was $1 million more than the budget while the money spent on roads was $1 million less. There is a respectful way to demand evidence when the execution of the plan has failed. I'm sure you must have done this in the military not only with budgets, but with assessing how well an operational plan worked and then feeding those results into the next plan. In the City, all that happens is that citizens keep getting told they need to provide more of their dollars for the next "plan."

24 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Liberty for COS on 08/15/2015 at 10:49 AM

Re: “Playing Around: Looks Like Me

Shane Corbin,remember!? Cute little Colorado Springs music scene.A memory,and that's all it will ever amount to.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by leecor84 on 08/15/2015 at 1:44 AM

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