DDA narrowing its focus following tax defeat
Following a defeat at the ballot box and a victory in the courts, Glenwood Springs is moving forward with revising the scope of its Downtown Development Authority.City Council tonight is scheduled to consider an ordinance amending the powers, board size and administration of the DDA. The organization is moving away from retail marketing and promotions and focusing on proceeding with capital improvements following defeat of a DDA property tax last fall.The DDA had hoped to use the funding for marketing and promotions. City manager Jeff Hecksel said the Downtown Business Association will now take over those functions, with the city assisting when it’s appropriate and feasible.Meanwhile, things have been going the city’s way in terms of another DDA source of funding. Earlier this year, the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling in favor of the city of Glenwood Springs in a tax dispute with Garfield County and Colorado Mountain College.The appeals court agreed with a 2003 summary judgment in district court. The district court found that CMC and the county had no standing to challenge the city’s tax increment financing plan for paying for downtown improvements that could include a parking garage and a performing arts theater. CMC and the county had sued in 2002, arguing that the financing plan would deprive them of nearly $4 million in tax revenues.Under the plan, the city decided to set aside new tax revenues created by growth in the tax base in the downtown district. State law allows TIF funding, but CMC and the county contend the city violated the law.The case remains under appeal. However, city officials are hopeful that they eventually will be able to move forward with plans to use the funds. Though the city can’t yet touch it, so far at least $500,000 has been accumulated in the TIF fund.The city is narrowing the DDA’s scope because the fund’s use is limited to capital improvements, and can’t be spent for marketing and promotion.Though one or more parking garages would use up much of the tax money raised over the 20-year TIF plan, Hecksel said the city would like the DDA to look at the existing downtown plan and consider other projects that might be considered for funding through TIF money.”I don’t know if there ever will be any money for them but I expect there to be a much bigger list,” he said.The next step would be to decide on projects to be funded and go back to voters with a request for authority to borrow money against future TIF revenues so work can begin immediately.
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Glenwood’s Sunlight Mountain Resort opens full-time for the season Friday with all three of its lifts providing access to expanded terrain. Oh, and it’s supposed to snow!