King unloads gargantuan plan for Council to evaluate C4C

You can say one thing for City Council president Keith King: he can sure write a memo!

At this week’s Council “Retreat” King presented a five-page action memo, laying out the course that he believes Council should follow as it turns its baleful eye upon the City for Champions proposal.

For connoisseurs of this neglected subcategory of literature, this one’s a masterpiece, the product of an author with long experience in the genre.

It incorporates 15 subheads and 105 bulleted action items. It demands that the memo’s recipients attend 43 meetings during the next two months, and split themselves into five fact-finding committees.

I know what I’d be thinking if I got such a memo: I need a different job!  So unreasonable, so convoluted and so patently absurd are its demands that it’s hard to imagine any councilmember would take it seriously – if not for the toxic politics of city government.

What King wants to do is to re-analyze C4C, essentially redoing the work of the city administration and the state Economic Development Commission. The unwritten assumption is simple: Everything in the original proposal is garbage.

Here’s the money excerpt:

1. Hire a temporary staff person to do minutes of committees, contact expert witnesses and answer questions for Council members.

2. Hire a polling firm to conduct a poll of a representative sample from each Council member’s district and at large.

3. Hire research firms as needed to evaluate the various aspects of the proposals.

4. Conduct interviews with community members about specific aspects of the proposal.

5. Allocate up to $100,000 dollars for: 1) Accounting 2) Legal 3) Economic, and 4) Personnel to fully analyze proposal.

Four members of Council  (Joel Miller, Don Knight, Helen Collins and Andy Pico) seem to be either unalterably opposed to C4C or suspicious of Mayor Steve Bach and all of his works. Four others (Jill Gaebler, Val Snider, Merv Bennett and Jan Martin) are supportive of C4C.

King is the swing vote – and does he ever love it!

The city, county and private-sector donors have already invested around $400,000 in preparing the plan, researching the numbers and submitting the proposal to the state.  It might be reasonable for the Council and the mayor to partner with the county commissioners and fund yet another third-party updated analysis of the projects, but creating a dreary committee-driven, meetings-driven, partisan process is divisive and unnecessary.

That process is a product of King’s experience in the state Legislature. That body is a puppet show, a world of mirrors where what you see is not what you get. Legislative committees, whether of five, seven, or nine members, are controlled by the majority party. Outcomes are preordained. Legislators aren’t free agents, but creatures of a partisan political system. Oppose the leadership, and you get nowhere.

But our City Council consists of nine freelancers, men and women who are free to vote their conscience. It’s hard not to conclude that King wants Council to go through this painful charade simply because he enjoys having the power to inconvenience all of them. He may also also want Dick Celeste, Pam Shockley-Zalabak, Bill Hybl, Steve Bartolin and yes — even the great and powerful Oz himself, Phil Anschutz! – to jump through a few hoops and kowtow.

I guess it’s too much to ask of Keith King that he stop playing politics. Council doesn’t need five new committees and 43 meetings. Council doesn’t need another $100,000. The city does not need the two branches of government to be at war.

So, Council President King, make up your mind. If you want to kill the deal, go ahead and do it. Don’t pretend that you need more information, and force this Kabuki Theater on the city and your colleagues. Stop dithering and act!

You know the Latin: Esse quam videre.

To be, rather than to seem.

Here’s a long excerpt from King’s memo:

Proposed Structure

I believe that it is important for City Council to decide if it wants to develop its own guiding principles or positions for the City for Champions proposal. If it does, I believe this decision must be an open, and an accountable process. If we chose not to, we can let most of the decisions be made without our input, or we can analyze it with a full understanding of all the issues that surround the long term impact it will have on our city. Below are some philosophical decisions we must make as a Council. These decisions must be made on process and policy positions that we decide as a Council that will an impact the success or failure of the proposal. We can make the following choices: If we want the proposed structures of citizen input, governance, financing, taxing and management or if we want to change those. Depending on our involvement, we will need some input from experts on business development and sustainability. We will need experts on governance, and most of all, we will need to decide how we hear the voices of our citizens as we develop our positions and finalize our votes. Below are some of the issues that we will need to decide and some processes that we can follow. There are obviously more choices than these but this will us a framework to start from. We will pass a resolution(s) or ordinance(s) on where we stand on this proposal. It is our decision on how much we decide to impact those that is important. In the end, we will have decided what role we believe we need for this issue. That is a decision I hope we make very carefully. Listed below are some of my ideas for a starting point to begin the conversation.

Process Principles – Structure Committees
1. Structure City Council into four committees to receive input and draft resolutions concerning the proposal.
2. Committee structure would be 1) Citizen Input, 2) Governance, 3) Finance, and 4) Taxes
3. Each committee would be structured to: 1) Listen to citizens, 2) Receive expert advice, 3) Hold discussions, and 4) Make Decisions
4. Committees would hold approximately four meetings to accomplish their scope of work.
5. Council would take a final position on the proposal before the deadlines outlined in the state approval letter.

Committees
1. Citizen Input: Chair: Andy Pico, Vice chair: Merv Bennett, Members = Three or Four
2. Governance: Chair: Jan Martin, Vice chair: Joel Miller, Members = Three or Four
3. Finance: Chair: Don Knight, Vice Chair : Val Snider, Members = Three or Four
4. Taxes Chair: Jill Gaebler, Vice Chair: Helen Collins, Members = Three or Four
5. At Large Committee: All of Council to hear from: 1) Those in favor, 2) Those against, 3) Experts, Citizens

Meetings:
1. Monday, January 27th: Proponents, 9-12 am
2. Saturday, February 1st: Proponents 9-12 am, Town hall – Citizen Input 1-4 pm
3. Wednesday, February 5th: Governance Committee first meeting
4. Friday, February 7th: Citizen Input first meeting
5. Saturday, February 15th: Town Hall – Financing 9-12 am, town hall – Taxes 1-4 pm
6. Tuesday, February 18th: Finance Committee 9-12
7. Friday, February 21st: Tax Committee first meeting
8. Saturday, March 1s:t Citizen Input: 9-12

Each committee should have up to 4 meetings to: 1) Listen 2) Hold discussions 3) Draft a resolution 4) Present resolution to Council

Council Presentations of Committee Resolutions: 
1. Work Session February 24th: Governance and Citizen Input
2. Work session: March 10th: Finance and Taxes
3. Council meeting votes: March 11th : Governance and Citizen Input
4. Council meeting votes: March 25th: Finance and Taxes
5. Council meeting votes: April 8th: Final Resolution

Structure of Committees:
1. All meetings will be open
2. Committees will take votes on resolutions to recommend to Council
3. Council will invite the Mayor, El Paso County Commissioners and City Council to all meetings and encourage collaboration.
4. The City Auditor will be asked to analyze the various economic risks that need addressed in the proposal.

Process Principles – Structure Council Meetings
1. Structure City Council as a whole committee for all the meetings to receive input and draft a resolution.
2. City Council would hold approximately four meetings to accomplish their scope of work.
3. Council would take a final position on the proposal before the deadlines outlined in the state approval letter.
Meetings
1. Monday, January 27th: Proponents, 9-12 am
2. Saturday, February 1st: Proponents 9-12 am, Town hall – Citizen Input 1-4 pm
3. Friday, February 14th: Town Hall – Financing 4-8 pm
4. Friday, February 21st: Taxes 4-8 pm
5. Saturday, March 1s:t Citizen Input: 9-12 am

Council Presentations of Committee Resolutions:
1. Council meeting votes: April 8th: Final Resolutions or Ordinances

Process Principles – Take Positions on the Major Issues at Council Meeting
1. Take positions on issues and then structure our positions based on those decisions
2. Draft resolutions and ordinances on issue and present them to the Advisory Committee and citizens.
3. Vote on final draft and passage of resolutions and ordinances on April 8th

Decisions that we need to make:

1. Extent of citizen input
a. Town hall meetings
b. Vote on proposal
c. Vote on taxes
d. Limited involvement

2. Governance
a. Involvement in Advisory Committee
b. Involvement in RTA Contract
c. Management of specific projects
d. Private donation requirements
e. Growth of funding

3. Finances
a. Financial risks
b. Urban renewal district changes
c. Municipal bonds
d. Urban renewal bonds
e. Amount of TIF
f. Projects that receive TIF
g. Public financing

4. Taxes
a. Vote by the citizens
b. Sales tax
c. Tax Incremental Percentage
d. Impact on general fund
e. Allocation to projects

Possible Structure to accomplish goals:
1. Hire a temporary staff person to do minutes of committees, contact expert witnesses, and answer questions for Council members.
2. Hire polling firm to conduct a poll of a representative sample from each Council member’s district and at large.
3. Hire research firms as needed to evaluate the various aspects of the proposals
4. Conduct interviews with community members about specific aspects of the proposal.
5. Allocate up to $100,000 dollars for: 1) Accounting 2) Legal 3) Economic, and 4) Personnel to fully analyze proposal

Possible Principles that need discussed:

Citizen Input
1. The citizens of Colorado Springs need to be heard from on all aspects of the proposal.
2. The business community needs to be allowed to express their opinions.
3. Citizens need to be represented on the RTA advisory committee.
4. Once the plan has been completed, the City Council needs to allow the citizens to vote on the various aspects of the proposal that will use local tax dollars or fees to finance it.

Governance Principles
1. City Council needs to play a strategic role in governing the Regional Tourism Authority.
2. City Council is allowed to participate and appoint members to the RTA advisory committee.
3. The RTA contract needs reviewed and given input by Council before it is signed. Council needs to know what parts of the contract can be amended.
4. The specific projects need City Council review to be sure they have financing and equity structures that meet sound economic goals.
5. The specific projects must have a funding stream for the business operations once they are completed and operating.
6. The various phases of the C4C projects need City Council approval before proceeding.
7. City Council needs to needs to understand which organizations will receive the state or local Tax Incremental Financing.
8. City Council needs to approve any changes to urban renewal districts.

Financing
1. The RTA accounting needs to be fully transparent on income and expenditures.
2. The financing of the buildings of C4C needs to be done in the most economical way possible.
3. The business plans for each of the projects needs reviewed before approving the debt issuance is approved.
4. It needs determined how much municipal bonds would save if used instead of urban renewal authority bonds.
5. The payoff of general obligation bonds might provide a good funding stream for bonds to be issued that save taxpayers’ dollars and the city sales tax TIF.
6. The city TIF needs to be money what would have never have been available except for the C4C projects.
7. The private donation commitments for the projects must be firm commitments before the gap filling funding is appropriated.
8. The annual growth of the general fund must be at least 1.5 percent before funding is allowed for the C4C projects.

Taxes
1. The payment of bonds needs to come from the increase in sales tax revenues and not fees that local citizens must pay.
2. It needs determined how much taxes general obligation bonds could save.
3. Tax dollars used to retire the C4C projects debt must be approved by voters if given to a non-governmental entity.
4. The projects need reserves to safeguard the financial obligations of the bonds in down economic times.
5. A dedicated funding stream is needed as a guarantee for payment of the bonds if the C4C projects.
6. If the C4C projects are successful in generating new tax dollars, an amount equal to the RTA TIF can be given to the stormwater operation and maintenance or capital construction. An equal percentage can also be given to roads and bridges.

Let our decisions begin!

 

2 Responses to King unloads gargantuan plan for Council to evaluate C4C

  1. Friction and conflict. Creating a problem in needed projects reaching fruition? What do you think? (A quick one question yes or no poll)

    With the Dec 2012-Dec 2013 net jobs number (U.S. Dept of Labor) for Colorado Springs down for yet another year with net loss being 285 jobs – – and no new major firm announcements no real economic development progress, we will be running our annual Trust and Confidence in Local Government Survey for which you can also sign up if you are interested.

    Rick Wehner
    February 1, 2014 at 9:52 am

  2. I’m glad Keith King is not the president of the Denver Broncos.

    He would have the Broncos players still at training camp on the sidelines while the coaches conduct polling across the country to determine the feasibility of a winning season. Then he would have all the assistant coaches go back and break down all the plays that coach Fox designed. And that’s not all folks…King would also devise a plan to make sure the Denver Broncos organization would never again invest in uniforms, pads, helmets, and of course healthy nutrition.

    The Broncos would never make it out of training camp, we would not have a winning-record-breaking season, and we certainly would not be going to the Super Bowl. But rest assured, King and company would rejoice and revel in the fact that they saved hundreds of millions of dollars by not playing a game.

    We would never hear, “Omaha, Hurry, Hurry!

    Bernie
    February 1, 2014 at 2:57 pm