Untruth #1 – Council member Stahlman continues to say that urban renewal does not divert tax dollars from the school district. That is not true; period. In fact, the TIF agreement with the school district on urban renewal plans, states that the urban renewal authority will be making refund payments to the school district on a regular basis. There could be no refund to the school district if the urban renewal authority wasn’t diverting tax dollars.
Here’s what happens. Once the TIF has been collected the County will actually make an accounting entry that redirects the property taxes collected in the urban renewal area from the school district to the urban renewal authority. An agreement exists that the school district will get to keep all the tax dollars that voters have provided through various mill levy overrides and bond issues. That is why there is a refunding mechanism in the TIF agreement. The portion of the property taxes that urban renewal will be allowed to keep is the base of the statutory funding. Any increment in the statutory funding will be kept by the urban renewal authority. It is this that will cause a shortfall in funding for the school district and it is this shortfall that the taxpayers will have to back-fill.
What Mr. Stahlman is trying to say is that they have negotiated a deal that will not result in a funding shortfall for the school district. That is because the State of Colorado – that means the good taxpayers of the State will be paying for our schools twice. Once, before the TIF is diverted and again once the school district determines they are short required funding. Then the state is obligated to “back-fill” for the loss. Currently, it is estimated that over 100 million dollars a year are being used by the State to back-fill school funding statewide due to urban renewal.
Bottom line – tax dollars are diverted from the schools to urban renewal and the taxpayers foot the bill.
Untruth #2 – At the council meeting on Jan. 6, 2015 Doug Clark, former mayor, made a presentation that included the fact that the new King Soopers at Broadway and Ltn Blvd has been blighted and considered to be menace to our health, safety, welfare and morals even before construction is completed. As he was returning to his seat Mayor Cernanec “reminded” Doug that the designation of blight was on urban renewal areas and not property by property. Not true. All you have to do is take a look at all four of the survey reports presented to the urban renewal board by their consultant that listed properties one by one along with their conditions of blight. King Soopers has been blighted – the new Breckenridge Brewery is also blighted and both are considered a menace to our health, safety, welfare and morals. The new 7-11 on Mineral is also a menace to our health, safety, welfare and morals. And the list goes on.
Untruth #3 – Councilman Stahlman has also made comments that the TIF money could only be spent on infrastructure. Not true. In fact the law leaves it wide open how the money can be spent. The consultant talked about all the money that would be available to LIFT to spend on park benches, computers for schools (how about letting them keep their own money and spend it the way they want to spend it), fire suppression systems for a mom and pop business, public art and the list goes on and on. There are no limitations on how the TIF money can be spent in any of the four plans.
Untruth #4 – City Council passed a resolution saying they would not approve any urban renewal plans that do not limit the use of eminent domain to those properties that request it. They didn’t follow their own Resolution. They passed all four plans with unfettered use of condemnation and eminent domain.
This is scary business. And when we have a council that will not be honest with the public about what urban renewal actually looks like in Littleton the public will be taken advantage of and for a long, long time.
Vote Yes on 300 and put voter oversight over the our tax dollars and the use of eminent domain.