An Urban Renewal Authority could improve Silt’s economy |

An Urban Renewal Authority could improve Silt’s economy

My Side
Rick Aluise
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Rick Aluise

State government, county governments and municipalities throughout the state continue to struggle with their budgets. The critical question each entity tries to answer every budget year is how to maintain or improve their financial condition in order to provide critical services.

Usually, the discussion focuses on how to improve economic conditions within their jurisdictions. Improving economic conditions will lead to an increase in commercial property taxes and sales taxes, which are the main sources of revenue for most local governments.

One of the lesser known methods for economic development available to municipalities, small or large, is the formation of an Urban Renewal Authority (URA).

In discussing the URA concept, it is not my intention to debate whether or not the tools available via a URA are appropriate or inappropriate. I only wish to clarify that a URA is a method permitted by the state to give municipalities tools that can dramatically improve their economic development, property values and long-term economic outlook.

A URA allows a community to designate blighted areas. Blight as defined by Webster’s Dictionary is very similar to blight as defined in the Urban Renewal Authority regulations. It is, generally speaking, property that is in a poor state of repair, abandoned, or has a clouded title or other characteristics that permit its designation as blight or belonging to a blighted area.

The Urban Renewal Authority blight criteria are not extremely difficult to meet. Blight as defined by Webster’s Dictionary is unpleasant. Blight as defined and utilized via an Urban Renewal Authority is a vehicle to achieve greater economic development, an increase in sales and property taxes, and an improvement in the appearance of the town and the quality of life of its citizens.

At first glance, it might appear that designating property as belonging to a blighted area is something that would have a negative impact on property value. On the contrary, such a designation opens a box of economic tools that allow a community to attract commercial businesses, improve the property and increase the value of the designated property and the properties in the vicinity.

One tool available to a URA is known as Tax Increment Financing (TIF). As the URA and property owners in the blighted area work together to increase the value of a specific property for a specific commercial end-user or users, certain improvements can qualify for financing via the increased property taxes over the original baseline property taxes. This can provide a tremendous incentive for the commercial end-user.

The URA can also buy, sell and lease property. In addition, it even has the power to condemn property. The Silt Board of Trustees have indicated no desire to condemn property.

A URA is not a new concept, and Silt is not the first town to implement one. Every major community on the Front Range has utilized a URA to enhance their communities and increase their revenues. In October, Erie formed a URA to help address economic needs. Stratton, via a URA and $700,000 in TIF funds, turned an abandoned building into a commercial hub that now employs nearly 300 people. Estes Park has been transformed via a URA.

Avon and Rifle have each formed a URA. Avon’s URA was created in 2007 to help the town improve its center core and includes plans to create an east-to-west Main Street through Avon, bringing a sense of community and cohesion to the town.

Each of those communities designated blighted areas as required by the URA formation process.

The town of Silt is the poorest community in Garfield County. In 2012, we project to collect approximately $386,000 in sales taxes. Other communities of similar size in Garfield County and throughout the state generate three to four times as much sales tax revenue.

The town of Silt has a right, and we elected representatives have an obligation, to try to achieve all the benefits a URA can provide, especially improving our sales tax collections. This will, in turn, provide the revenue to improve our streets, maintain our parks and meet the service needs of our residents.

Rick Aluise is a member of the Silt Board of Trustees. Email him at

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