Legal settlement to benefit downtown |

Legal settlement to benefit downtown

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Glenwood Springs’ downtown will receive an additional $50,000 annual boost thanks to a legal settlement three years ago related to the Glenwood Meadows commercial development.The money will be used for beautification and other capital improvements downtown.The city agreed three years ago to provide $50,000 annually to downtown from sales tax revenues generated by the Glenwood Meadows development. The agreement settled a lawsuit by a group called Glenwood Springs Citizens for Democracy. It included representatives of Big John’s Building & Home Center and the former True Value hardware store, which later was closed to make way for the expansion of Glenwood Springs High School.The group challenged the establishment of three metropolitan tax districts at Glenwood Meadows. Big John’s owner John Lindsey said the group wanted a decision by City Council authorizing the districts to be put to a vote of the public.The group was worried about Glenwood Meadows’ potential impact on downtown, and wanted the settlement money to be used to make downtown more competitive.At a budget meeting in September, City Council considered whether the money should go toward paying off about $300,000 in debt the Downtown Development Authority fund owes other city funds for past downtown operational expenditures. Those expenditures included the employment, for a time, of a downtown director.However, council decided against applying the money to debt retirement, citing the intent of the settlement agreement.Lindsey was glad to hear of council’s decision.”That’s what we wanted them to do, we just wanted to help downtown maintain their competitive advantage against a brand-new, spanking-pretty penny,” Lindsey said.Lindsey said the payments will be made for 10 years.Lindsey’s group also reached a separate agreement with Meadows developers, but terms of that deal were kept confidential.

City manager Jeff Hecksel said the $50,000 presumably will help fund some of the items on a priority list of capital improvements that are being drawn up for downtown. The bulk of those projects will be paid for by tax increment financing. That money is generated by giving the DDA all new property tax revenues created by growth in the tax base in the DDA district, along with half of new city sales tax revenues in the district, over 25 years.Garfield County and Colorado Mountain College had fought a multi-year legal battle challenging the city’s implementation of the TIF mechanism, which will cost them money. But they lost at the Colorado Supreme Court level in 2005. Late last year, the city and county reached an agreement allowing for the release of nearly $600,000 collected by the tax to date.Lindsey said one use for the $50,000 a year in settlement money should be to provide matching grants to downtown business owners.”It would give the businesses a chance to just put a facelift on downtown,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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