Colorado Springs hires outside attorney for advice on City for Champions

Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), 2014-08-25


Aug. 25 --The city of Colorado Springs has hired an outside attorney to give a legal advice about a citywide Tax Increment Financing district for the City for Champions project.

In an Aug. 19 email from city council member Joel Miller to the city's City for Champions project director Bob Cope , Miller asks whether the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority would handle a city and county TIF, should those tax increment financing districts be approved.

TIFs are financing methods used for redevelopment. TIF uses a portion of the additional sales tax or all of the new property tax generated by a development. That tax increment -- or net new tax revenue -- goes to the urban renewal authority established by municipalities to oversee TIF projects.

The money is used to pay off bonds or reimburses the developer or developers of projects that must serve a public good such as improving public infrastructure, the remediation of pollution, or clearance of blighted properties. TIF was authorized by lawmakers in Colorado in the late 1950s but it wasn't until the 1980s that municipalities across the state began using TIF as an incentive for projects in blighted areas that were deemed too expensive to develop without financial help.

Under the City for Champions plan, the city and El Paso County would take 13.08 percent of their increased sales tax revenue in a citywide TIF zone over 30 years and designate it for City for Champions. The city and county money, would be specifically used to help build the downtown sports and event center

Miller asked whether both the city and county TIF would be managed by the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority . If the URA is not the entity to handle the city and county TIFs, what entity would, Miller asked?

Cope, in his email response, said the City's Attorney Office has hired an attorney to answer "the question regarding the citywide TIF and other potential financing mechanisms."

"I do not want to speculate on what their findings may be or the details of any possible future implementation, "Cope wrote.

City for Champions is four proposed tourism projects for Colorado Springs -- a downtown Olympic Museum ; a downtown sports and event center; a new Air Force Academy visitors center; and a sports medicine and performance center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs .

In addition, City for Champions includes several southwest downtown public improvements, including a 1,500-space parking garage and a 500-foot pedestrian bridge to link America the Beautiful Park to the rest of southwest downtown.

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