It’s time for fight to end
It took years of legal wrangling and thousands of dollars in public funds to resolve. But a dispute between local governments over funding of Glenwood Springs downtown projects appears to have reached resolution.A state appeals court recently upheld a district court summary judgment in favor of the city’s use of tax increment financing. The money is planned for projects that could include one or more parking structures, and maybe even a performing arts theater.The city’s victory was a loss for Garfield County and Colorado Mountain College, which claimed the funding mechanism would cost them millions of dollars. The mechanism sets aside new revenues from an increased growth in the tax base in the downtown district for district use, meaning less money for the county and CMC. The county and college could push the matter further. But they should consider that it appears they would be throwing more public money toward a lost cause.There’s only a 1-in-10 chance of the state Supreme Court even hearing an appeal. And in this case, the county and college failed to convince either a district judge or the appeals court that they even had standing to bring suit.That’s frustrating for the two plaintiffs, since it means they haven’t even been allowed to argue the merits of their case. But it also seems to reflect a judicial recognition that state law specifically provides for funding of downtown projects through the use of so-called TIF financing. If the county and college don’t like it, they might be better off at this point lobbying lawmakers to change the law than questioning the city’s use of it.Because of their suit, Glenwood Springs has spent nearly $70,000 for an outside attorney’s fees, not to mention the time city attorney Karl Hanlon has devoted to the case. And CMC has paid for outside counsel as well.CMC and the county had valid reasons for questioning the tax mechanism. But they’ve been getting back some answers loud and clear from the judiciary. It’s time to end this fight and let the city move on with improving downtown, the way other cities have under a method expressly created by the state Legislature for this purpose.
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The time is now.