PIF may not pay off cost of improvements at Glenwood Meadows | PostIndependent.com

PIF may not pay off cost of improvements at Glenwood Meadows

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Millions collected from a fee on most sales at Glenwood Meadows are going to repay debt on $15.3 million in public improvements, and money collected under the fee probably won’t even pay back all the debt, the mall developer says.

Almost all sales and services at Glenwood Meadows are subject to a public improvement fee (PIF) of 1.5 percent. The fee is meant to finance things like roads, traffic controls, water and sewage systems. The fee is added to the total cost of a sale before tax. Glenwood Springs municipal government collects the PIF and deposits it into American National Bank, where it goes to pay off debt. The PIF ends after a period of about 20 years from 2005 when the mall was built.

PIF revenue has gone toward paying back $18 million in debt issued to build improvements necessary before the mall was built, said Mike Maple, of Aspen’s Dunrene Group, which developed the mall. He said projections indicate probably only about $14.5 million will be paid back by the PIF before it ends.

“The total of $18 million was hoped to be paid back over the 20 years by the PIF,” Maple said.

Maple said the $15.3 million worth of improvements includes $3.5 million for roundabouts at the West Glenwood Springs Interstate 70 exit. There was also almost $4 million spent on work at the intersection of Eighth Street and Midland Avenue plus things like turn lanes and stop lights on Midland Avenue and bike paths from Midland Avenue to the Community Center and under Midland Avenue. Construction of Wulfsohn Road, East Meadows Drive and West Meadows Drive and the associated utility infrastructure also cost about $8 million.

“That’s what’s been spent,” Maple said. “Nowhere near that much has been collected.”

He didn’t release the total amount collected so far under the PIF, saying he didn’t have the information readily available and the 2008 figure isn’t yet available. City finance director Mike Harman said in an e-mail the city couldn’t release the figures because the city is “merely a collection agent” for the developer and the money collected is “not part of the city’s books or accounting process.”

According to a calculation based on city sales tax revenue collected from Glenwood Meadows, the PIF generated about $3.08 million by the end of 2007. Sales tax collection for different areas for 2008 won’t be available until at least April.

The calculation includes a discrepancy because it doesn’t take into account the fact that the 1.5 percent PIF is taxed by the city. The calculation is still probably fairly close to the actual amount collected under the PIF, according to Harman and Maple.

“When you’re talking about numbers in the hundreds of millions in sales, the tax on the PIF is a pretty darn small piece of that,” Maple said.

In 2005, former city councilor Larry Beckwith took issue with the fact that the PIF is taxed. He said he estimated shoppers at Glenwood Meadows would pay as much as $3 million extra over 20 years “for what in my opinion is an overcharge.”

Some say the developer should have to pay for all the infrastructure and public improvements. Others have said sales tax elsewhere is the same or higher, and they don’t mind the fee if it improves things in Glenwood Springs.

Maple said the PIF is “just a mechanism to pay for the infrastructure that was required by the city of Glenwood Springs for this particular development.”

Glenwood Meadows has given shoppers more options and dramatically increased the city’s sales tax revenue. Sales in other parts of town have also continued to increase year over year, despite initial fears Glenwood Meadows would hurt businesses elsewhere.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121


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