Council President Keith King is at it again. At a specially called Council meeting Monday afternoon, King came prepared to present Council with a proposed resolution “concerning the proposed City for Champions.” He also plans to name a “code review committee.”
The proposed resolution seems to be an attempt by King to wrest control of the C4C process from Mayor Steve Bach, giving Council the power to modify, postpone indefinitely or even kill the entire package.
Interestingly, it appears that King may totally misunderstand C4C’s proposed financial structure. In an email, he noted that only three projects will need public funding, citing as his source a front-page article in Sunday’s Gazette.
President King, you can’t believe everything you read in the newspaper! The Gazette article stated that “City for Champions four tourism projects … have received a commitment of $120.5 million in state sales tax money. That leaves about $130 million to be raised in public or private money to build the four venues.”
In reality, the $120.5 million is not a cash grant from the state, but a projected state sales tax revenue increase attributable to the four projects over a 30-year period. Revenue bonds can be issued secured by the “tax increment,’ but not for the full $120.5 million. City forecasts call for realizing $47.5 million from bonds secured by the state sales tax increment.
In case you’re counting, that’s about $73 million short of $120.5 million.
Given that simple fact, it’s clear that some degree of local public funding will be necessary for both the Olympic Museum and for the downtown sports/events center — unless private donations produce far more than projected. The sports/events center will require direct support, while the museum will benefit indirectly from a proposed $51.5 million in southwest downtown urban renewal area improvements. Absent such improvements, the Olympic Museum might sit forlornly in a sea of blight.
King will also present his plan to name a “Blue Ribbon Council-Mayor City Code Review Committee.” He’s not asking for Council approval, arguing that he as Council president has the power to form committees and appoint the members thereof. This committee, to be chaired by former State sen. Andy McElhany, will also include former County Commissioner Jim Bensberg, former City Attorney Pat Kelly, Kevin Walker and Sarah Jack.
It couldn’t be more different from charter review committees of years past, which were comprised of diverse groups of city leaders without visible political agendas. This “blue-ribbon” group appears to be entirely comprised of confirmed or likely Bach enemies and/or King allies. They’re uniformly competent, but likely inclined to support King’s oft-stated plans to clip Mayor Bach’s wings. It’ll be surprising if King doesn’t get exactly what he wants from them – after all, why appoint a committee if they’re going to go off the reservation?
Here are the texts of the two missives:
A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS CONCERNING THE PROPOSED CITY FOR CHAMPIONS
WHEREAS: The City for Champions has been proposed to return a portion of the state sales tax collected in Colorado Springs back to the community, and
WHEREAS: The City for Champions must be structured in the most fiscally conservative manner possible to insure financial success, and
WHEREAS: The citizens of the city of Colorado Springs are willing to vote in support of ideas that are properly structured and make sense economically,
NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Colorado Springs Council:
1. The Regional Tourism Advisory Board should be advisory to the City and County. The Council must be represented on the Board and allowed to choose one-third of the members to serve on the Board. There need to be members on the Board that have financial, legal and business expertise.
2. The City and the County must sign an Intergovernmental Agreement that delineates the decision making authority. The agreement must be adopted by City Council. Council must delineate in the agreements the extent to which it will exercise its due diligence over the financial aspects of the proposal.
3. The City Council must participate in the review of the Regional Tourism Project contract with the state before it is signed.
4. If a proposed project does not need local government funding, the Council must determine the role of the IGA and how it Council will participate in the projects and interact with the state.
5. The various phases of the C4C projects need Council approval before proceeding only if they receive city funds.
1. Before funds are used on any of the proposed projects, the Council through the IGA needs to review the financing and equity structures to insure sound financial planning and funding for successful business operations. The accounting must be fully transparent.
2. The financing of the buildings of C4C needs to be done in the most economical way possible. This includes the funding with bonds.
3. The private donation commitments for the projects must be firm commitments before the gap filling funding is appropriated. The projects that do not need city funding must make an irrevocable agreement with the IGA that they will not as for city funds.
4. The annual growth of the general fund must be at least 1.5 percent before City funding is allowed for the C4C projects.
Proposed Guiding Principles – Taxes
1. The city may not expend city funds on capital construction of any of the projects without a vote of the people.
Keith King – President
107 North Nevada Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80901
Council believes it is extremely important that the Legislative and Executive branches of our new Council/Mayor form of government work together as co-equals in doing what is best for our City and our Citizens. A major part of the disagreements to date have been over interpretation of the checks and balances laid out in the City Charter. These differences can either be resolved in costly court battles, or through the development of clarifying legislation within our City Code; I vote for the latter. To that end, as President of the City Council of the City of Colorado Springs I hereby announce the establishment of the following committee that will be formed in 2014.
Blue Ribbon Council-Mayor City Code Review Committee
The purpose of this committee is to clarify the checks and balances that are necessary for the appropriate relationship between Council and the Mayor relative to the following topics:
The most pressing issue it that of the staff of City Council. I have asked the committee to be chaired by: A former co-chair of the original Council-Mayor planning committee, the Honorable Senator Andy McElhany. I am also asking Pat Kelly, a former City Attorney, Jim Bensberg a former County Commissioner and Kevin Walker, and Sarah Jack to help who helped draft the Council/Mayor form of governance. The committee will also ask for input from the citizens of Colorado Springs.
The committee will meet for three months during the first part of 2014 to bring forward recommended changes to the charter and rules of the previously mentioned topics. The committee will give monthly updates to the Council during its monthly work sessions and develop a set of recommendations for Council and the Mayor to consider. The final recommendations of the committee will be presented at the last formal meeting of the Council in April. The Council will then deliberate the recommendations and adopt those that it believes are necessary.