DDA considers future after tax measure’s defeat
Downtown Glenwood Springs is at a crossroads after the defeat of a proposed property tax in November’s election.Members of the city’s Downtown Development Authority are trying to determine the DDA’s future after the five-mill measure was defeated 115-80.One question is whether the Downtown Retail and Restaurant Committee, a subcommittee of the DDA, should go its separate way.That committee has been involved in sprucing up downtown, promoting the merchants and organizing special events. But the lack of funding for a paid downtown development director is taking its toll on the volunteer group, and the work it does may come to a halt.Sue Sharpe, one of those merchant volunteers and also a member of the DDA board, said the volunteer ranks have dwindled to about five people.”With no paid staff person there is going to be no DRRC next year,” Sharpe said Wednesday at a DDA board meeting.The DDA board is exploring some options for helping out downtown. It plans to approach city staff members and the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association board to see what help they might be able to provide.Marianne Virgili, the CRA’s executive director and also aDDA: see page 2 DDA board member, said the chamber staff probably spends about 25 percent of its staff time now on downtown issues.”A healthy downtown is critical to a healthy community, and I think the (chamber) board firmly believes that,” she said. DDA: see page 2But the chamber also must work on behalf of the interests of its other members in other parts of town, Virgili said.Meanwhile, the DDA is awaiting a Colorado Court of Appeals decision on the city’s planned use of tax increment financing to fund the DDA. That financing would give theDDA: see page 2DDA: from page 1 DDA all the money resulting from increases in property tax revenues downtown, and half the increase in sales tax revenues, during the DDA’s 20-year life span.Garfield County and Colorado Mountain College have sued the city, saying the measure would deprive them of millions of dollars in revenues.Already, the financing has accumulated about a half-million dollars that would go to the DDA if it prevails in court.However, the financing is intended to pay for capital projects, possibly including a parking garage and performing arts theater. November’s property tax measure was to have funded downtown promotions, as well as hiring of a full-time director.Downtown merchants have been doing advertising and promotions with $45,000 in funds from the city this year, but the DDA board is trying to figure out a future source for such funding. One possibility would be for the merchants committee to become a separate nonprofit entity, which could enable it to seek grants and other funding. Fees paid by member businesses, perhaps based on how many employees they have, might be another approach.While looking ahead, the DDA board also reflected Wednesday on the refusal of voters to support the property tax.”They didn’t want to get down and get registered, even,” Virgili said.DDA volunteer Bob Zanella estimates that more than 800 downtown property owners, along with residents and others leasing property downtown, were eligible to vote. Yet only about 200 participated in the election. He believes the low participation doomed the tax measure.The DDA board plans to resume discussions about the authority’s future at its next meeting, at 4 p.m. Jan. 10 at City Hall.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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