Travins balks at PIF to shore up USOC project

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Luke Travins doesn’t much like the proposed public improvement fee that Mayor Lionel Rivera has been peddling to downtown establishments during the last several weeks.

The voluntary 1 percent fee, which bars and restaurants would collect from patrons to help finance the U.S. Olympic Committee’s new headquarters building, has serious structural problems, said Travins, who is part-owner and regional manager of Concept Restaurants, which owns Jose Muldoon’s, MacKenzie’s Chophouse and The Ritz Grill in downtown.

Travins

Travins

“Let me make one thing clear, there’s no one in this city who wants the USOC to stay here and be downtown more than me,” he said. “It’s not just that the building is located right between two of our restaurants (MacKenzie’s and The Ritz), but it’s also personal.  I spent three years as an athlete at the Olympic Training Center, playing handball.  I was on the national team.  The people at the OTC, the athletes and the people who work there, are the kind of people that I’ve been around for most of my life. So I’m very, very supportive of this effort.”

But Travins said he doesn’t think the mayor’s plan is fair or workable.

“First, it’s voluntary, so I might be doing it, but my competitor up the street might not,” he said. “And I don’t think that customers are going to go to one restaurant rather than another on the basis of whether or not they support the USOC.”

Travins also said there are collection problems.

“When you go to the bar at The Ritz on Saturday night and order a beer, we charge you four bucks, and back out the sales tax,” he said. “We have to do that to maintain efficient, quick service.  You’re really paying $3.86 – so do we just absorb the extra 1 percent?”

Travins said that as much as half of Concept’s business comes from those kinds of cash sales.

“Of course there are other options,” he said. “Cover charges aren’t subject to sales tax, so you can have a cover charge and then sell the first two beers for a penny – it’s legal.”

Travins said there are better options to raise the money needed for the project.

“I think that a mill levy (assessed by the Downtown Metro District) would be better,” he said. “It’d be fair, easy to administer and everybody would have to pay, if a majority of property owners voted for it.  And it’d raise just as much as the PIF.”

Travins also has a few ideas about how to reduce the price tag of the headquarters project.

“How much is that skybridge (from the city parking structure at Colorado and Nevada Avenues to the USOC building) going to cost, anyway?” he asked. “A couple of million?  Colorado Springs isn’t Chicago – I don’t see why we need it.”

5 Responses to Travins balks at PIF to shore up USOC project

  1. I TOTALLY AGREE WITH LUKE WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE MILL LEVY. ANY TAX PAYER FUNDS USED FOR THIS PROJECT SHOULD BE LOOKED WITH CAUTION AND DISTRUST. WHAT THIS CITY COUNCIL HAS DONE IN THE PAST AND WILL DO IN THE FUTURE HAS A NO CONFIDENCE VOTE FROM ME. THE MAYOR HAS SCREWED THIS PROJECT UP FROM THE BEGINNING AND SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

    JEFFREY PISANOS
    April 29, 2009 at 3:01 pm

  2. Yet another reason to avoid going downtown. Higher and higher prices. Food costs more and then you have to add parking and being accosted by bums, drunks or bar fights overflowing from way too many bars in one place. Colorado Springs downtown is no longer a family friendly environment. I moved here 20+ years ago as a young professional with a young family. I liked downtown, it was easy access, no unnecessary charges like parking fees and you felt safe.
    Hey, if it is voluntary, can I voluntarily opt out of the fee if I were to dine downtown? (not that the current situation is inviting – I’d rather go to all of the wonderful, well priced restaurants that have easy and free parking, and feel safe.

    Jocko
    April 29, 2009 at 3:26 pm

  3. The LAST thing I need in life is a higher Bar Tab! These incompetent morons on City Council are driving me to drink! Mayor Lionel ought to be saving his pennies for a form-fitting Orange Jumpsuit! He’ll be the new “boy-toy” at the County Correctional Center if there is any justice regarding this USOC scam!

    RJF
    April 29, 2009 at 3:47 pm

  4. Why should downtown shoulder this burden? Enlighten me how this USOC ONLY benefits downtown. The employees, vendors, contractors athletes and every business that benefits from the USOC is not in the downtown district. City needs to step up, issue the COP’s and get on with it!
    This is only a 1 million dollar fix, less than 5% of the problem. With Lionel already taking the 5th, “unavailable for comment” how is he going to do his fundraising for his 1.5 million commitment. HA! Eventually to raise this money, he’s going to have to come up with a great story…cant wait.

    Candice
    April 29, 2009 at 9:27 pm

  5. I agree with Travins. The Voluntary PIF won’t work and wouldn’t be fair I am however in favor of making sales taxes, property taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, workers compensation insurance federal and state income and estate taxes voluntary

    RockyMtnMan
    April 30, 2009 at 8:59 am