CURIOUS: I actually asked Bennett that question. I asked him following a meeting that Council, County Commissioners, former Mayor Bach and other players had about the RTA.
Specifically, I asked Bennett if he considered dollars collected through tax increment financing "city dollars." He said, "No." Bennett also refused to sign a letter stating he would support a public vote if tax increment financing was used.
So, even though those dollars would've been going to our general fund to pay for things like roads, police and fire protection and parks, and would instead be funneled through the URA to pay for a stadium, Bennett does not consider those dollars "city dollars."
I'll eat my hat if Bennett supports a public vote for tax increment financing. I believe he's simply mincing words and hoping the public isn't paying attention.
If you want a voice on whether our local government should spend hundreds of millions of our dollars on a stadium, come sign a petition this Saturday, October 25th, at City Hall from 12-4:00. City Hall is located at 107 N Nevada Ave.
If we're talking about the City for Champions stadium, the current plan includes over $200 million in local public funding. The money would be collected from more than 9,400 cash registers located throughout 90% of the city. Some people inaccurately believe the State would pay for the stadium. The State's portion, at most, would cover less than 9% of the cost, and that money is not guaranteed.
If you'd like information about where to sign a petition, or would like a petition to circulate yourself, please contact me at ANITA.L.MILLER@ATT.NET. The cause also has a Facebook page: Petition with a mission.
Here are some facts about City for Champions (C4C), all of which are available through Colorado Open Records Act requests from the City and the State:
The State of Colorado will contribute less than 20% of the total cost of the projects.
The State contribution is not guaranteed—if there are times when the sales tax collected does not exceed a baseline, the State will contribute nothing.
90% of City cash registers will collect a portion of City and County sales tax in order to help pay for the projects—not just cash registers around the projects, or cash registers involved in the tourist trade.
The City and County sales tax increment financing (the money taken from the cash registers) will occur for at least 30 years.
The downtown stadium alone will cost approximately $200 million in local public funding.
Mayor Bach has stated that he doesn’t know who will own the stadium, but a board he appointed would choose the owner.
The Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority (CSURA) would be the financing arm of C4C and would make the debt payments. Because the sales tax would be diverted to the CSURA before it reaches the General Fund, a public vote on C4C is not required. If the money went into the General Fund and then went to pay the debt, a vote would be required due to TABOR. Mayor Bach is circumventing a vote by having the funds travel through the CSURA.
These sales tax dollars collected for C4C would be funds not available to pay for Police, Fire, Parks, Roads, etc.—items for which there is a genuine government role. If you 1. look at the sales tax brought in from last month versus that month a year ago 2. consider the growth between the two years and then 3. take out the portion that would’ve gone into paying for C4C, that would amount to about $150,000. $150,000 in one month to pay for C4C instead of going into the General Fund to pay for core functions. And the growth between last year and this year had nothing to do with C4C, but if the projects had already been built, that growth would've been attributed to the projects.
Mayor Bach has also told the State that in addition to City and County sales tax dollars, he’s willing to use our Parking Enterprise, PPRTA and the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area funds to help pay for C4C.
Citizens deserve a vote on C4C.
“That's because, she says, she believes in the potential for $250 million spent to build the venues — most of it tax money — to trigger a rise in the city's sales tax revenues to fund much needed street repairs and storm water drainage projects.”
First of all, the $120.5 million from the State is not guaranteed. The State deals with percentages, not dollar amounts. They would give back 13.08% of State sales tax over an already-established economic baseline. In years that the economy is bad, it’s possible the State would give zero funds, but payments on the debt incurred by the City would still have to be paid. The State’s position on this is clear, as indicated by the following statement in its Regional Tourism Act Guidelines document: “Please note that there is the possibility that the Department of Revenue will be unable to pay out revenues in one or more years if sales taxes do not exceed the base year revenue.”
Secondly, the State’s portion, if it did amount to $250 million, would cover less than 20% of the total cost of City for Champions. This is per documents provided by the applicants.
In the current plan of finance, the City and County would pay approximately $350 million. That figure includes the cost of financing using the same ratio that applicants use, and it assumes that the $48 million in philanthropy comes through.
Thirdly, you’ll hear proponents say that the State is giving the City $120.5 million and the projects will cost $250 million. The $120.5 million includes the cost of financing and the $250 million does not—they are comparing apples with oranges. Whichever approach you use (with or without financing), the State’s portion would be less than 20%.
Finally, I find it interesting that the mayor will say on the one hand that City for Champions is all in the “concept stage” and that we don’t have to have the projects built for several years, but on the other hand, he proclaims C4C as the answer to our stormwater problems. So we’re going to wait several years to address those stormwater problems?
To me, the biggest C4C issue is the stadium. It would cost the City and the County approximately $200 million and the mayor is saying that we wouldn’t own it—he and a board selected by him would determine ownership.
Note: I’m the wife of Council Member Miller, but my words are my own.
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