Group takes a swing at golf course funding method | PostIndependent.com
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Group takes a swing at golf course funding method

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A group of citizens recently banded together to contest the city’s proposed method of funding a new municipal golf course. The group, which doesn’t yet have a name, is so far comprised of around a dozen people who are opposed to City Council’s planned use of “certificates of participation” to build the golf course, a kayak park and to partially fund a swimming pool.”There hasn’t been a whole lot of community dialogue,” group member Nancy Stevens said. Certificates of participation, COPs, are a method many municipalities have used to borrow millions of dollars without legally going into debt, thereby skipping the need for a public vote that would be required under Colorado’s TABOR Act. Payment by the city for the COPs would have to have year-to-year approval by council. In public meetings on the COPs, city manager Mike Copp pointed out that the Garfield County Jail was built using COPs. Group members, however, said Garfield County’s use of COPs for the jail was a legitimate use because the jail is a “need-to-have” item rather than a “nice-to-have” item.”They’re using COPs to get around the TABOR Amendment,” group member Joe O’Donnell said at the group’s second meeting Wednesday. “It’s a sneaky way around bonds. . They’re doing this so they don’t have to go to a vote.”On Thursday, the final touches were being put on an “informal” petition. Members hope to begin circulating copies of the petition and gathering signatures during Strawberry Days. At public meetings involving the COPs, some City Council members and Copp cited what they see as good reasons to finance the recreational amenities by using the certificates: -The present low interest rates could go up by the time an election could be held.-The funding source for COPs can be changed year-to-year, while bonds must use the same funding source until they are paid off.-Some council members said they’re confident voters would go along with the idea.-A financial report said the golf course will eventually generate money that can be used to pay for other recreational amenities.-Having a golf course is necessary to lure a conference center to the city.Dean Moffatt, a member of the anti-Red Feather Ridge group Community Voices for Responsible Growth, shared some of the lessons learned by CVRG at the Wednesday meeting and advised the group to stay focused on one particular issue. “It’s not a matter of whether you’re for or against the city having a golf course,” he said. “It’s a matter of whether you’re for or against the city going into debt.”Contact Greg Mass: 945-8515, ext. 511gmasse@postindependent.com


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