Tension grows over C4C among local leaders

Filed under: Daily News,Government |

Steve-Bach-2At a hastily called press conference Monday afternoon, Council President Keith King and Board of County Commissioners Chair Dennis Hisey voiced their displeasure with Mayor Steve Bach and with the City for Champions proposal.

The two officials presented letters addressed to Bach, which he had yet to see, enumerating their concerns.

The first missive, signed by King and Councilors Helen Collins, Don Knight, Andy Pico, and Joel Miller, expressed the opposition of “a majority of City Council” to the use of any “local public funds which have been contemplated in the City’s RTA application for the City for Champions projects until such time as our citizens vote otherwise.”

The signatories also noted, “It is clear that the proposal does not contain adequate checks and balances that provide for accountability or transparency of public funds.”

In a letter signed by King and Hisey, the two elected officials characterized the “Resolution for the establishment of the City for Champions relationship to the Colorado Economic Development Commission” as “woefully unacceptable and disappointingly non-collaborative.”

Emphasizing that they were speaking only for themselves “and not necessarily on behalf of the rest of City Council or the El Paso County Commissioners,” they called for Bach to make major changes in the resolution prior to submitting it to the state EDC.

Their demands include:

  • The definition of applicant must reflect the City of Colorado Springs as the signatory as was recognized by the State, but only as the facilitator of the application.
  • Governance of the projects must reflect those entities considering financial participation and/or responsibility in the long-term project.
  • “Financing Entity must be further defined so as to protect the taxpayers from any entity being able to bond against the general funds of the City or County without a public vote of the people.

“This letter,” King and Hisey concluded, “represents only a sample of the issues which need to be further addressed and expresses why we will not support this resolution without major changes.”

King also said that providing local public funding for C4C through a voter-approved general obligation bonds would be both less expensive and more transparent than the tax-increment funding that has been suggested.

“We could save $100 million  (through lower interest rates),” King said.

Mayor Steve Bach reacted to the two missives with surprise and dismay.

“I had lunch yesterday [Monday] at my initiation with Keith, Dennis and Tom Neppl, Chair of the RBA, to discuss the economy and jobs,” Bach said in an email Tuesday morning. “I brought up C4C late into the conversation. Neither Keith, Dennis nor Tom had done so earlier. I offered that we could further define in the Resolution the parameters for standing up the SEC advisory entity, and suggested that perhaps the Council President Pro Tem (Merv Bennett) and the County Commission Vice Chair (Amy Lathen) should be in that leadership group and that the umbrella RTA Advisory Board members could (by consensus hopefully) determine the actual makeup of the membership.

“So, Keith and Dennis knew hours before their 4:30 p.m. media conference yesterday afternoon that I expressed flexibility in wanting to hear feedback on the Resolution and that I wanted to work through any concerns of RTA Advisory Board members, including them, today [Tuesday] at our regularly scheduled monthly core leadership meeting.

“It is very disappointing that Keith and Dennis chose a public platform yesterday to air their issues especially just after we met for lunch and they expressed no comments except Keith saying that Council has been shut out of C4C.  When I then attempted to engage in discussion with him on that concern, he did not respond.”

At the press conference, Hisey and King remembered things differently.

“We had a discussion (at lunch) that was honest and frank,” said King. “We brought up the resolution, and (the Mayor) said that he’s comfortable with it as it stands.”

During the press conference, Councilors Collins and Knight sat beside King. The Council president pooh-poohed a suggestion that the gathering was a de jure public meeting that must be noticed at least 24 hours in advance.

“It’s a press conference,” King said.

Asked what action Council would take if Mayor Bach ignored their entreaties, King was noncommittal.

“I hope that we don’t get to that point,” he said.

Bach doesn’t sympathize with their stated concerns.

“They know that they can prevent any part of the deal from going forward if they want to,” he said. “They can just decline to approve any changes in the downtown urban renewal district, and that’s that. And if, after we’ve gone through the due diligence, they don’t support the stadium and events center, fine. But we can’t have the City Council and the County Commission voting on every little thing – that’s not our form of government.”

“I can’t figure out how to make them happy,” he concluded.

9 Responses to Tension grows over C4C among local leaders

  1. If this deal goes through and there is no vote of the people to legitimize the taxes, I will make sure Mr. Bach gets a new message. If they were making this deal anywhere but in the government arena, it would be a criminal act. Misrepresentation and fraud has a ring to it. Falsified projections, etc.

    I would remind Mr. Bach that nearly every project put forth by the Broadmoor for many decades here have failed.

    Pikes Peak Ski Area. Broadmoor Ski Run. Pikes Peak Center was supposed to make a profit. It doesn’t. World Arena built at the Broadmoor’s request. Antler’s Hotel complex. They all failed and most of them are continuing to fail.

    This city has subsidized Broadmoor projects for years. We have dangerous flood water problems around here that are more important than any of this. IF they build a museum and some people drown in the flooded parking lots, maybe criminal charges will focus the government mind.

    March 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm

  2. But pickleball is just fine? ARRGGH!

    CJ Moore
    March 18, 2014 at 12:31 pm

  3. The Gazette editorial ridiculing pickleball should be obvious to all as an attempt by C4C proponents to discredit councilman Knight, one of the 5 councilors who oppose C4C. Opposition exists for many reasons, including: The financial details are not yet ready for prime time. The lack of transparency. The process itself. One Gazette commenter wrote, “It’s beginning to sound like the development of an organized crime ring.” And most important of all is bypassing a vote of the people. The mayor says diverting sales tax to service the bonds is not a tax increase and therefore TABOR be damned. The mayor says he and other “community leaders” will decide if a stadium is “viable”, regardless of whether the citizens, the people who will be paying for it, want a stadium.

    j lee
    March 18, 2014 at 3:01 pm

  4. The risk remains that C4C will become the personal little play toy of a select group of politicians and developers and they will be the only people in the world who profit from this project.

    Steven Shepard
    March 18, 2014 at 8:59 pm

  5. I would like to see Bach recalled he is and will ruin and run this city to the ground for his own gain sounds like a mayor we had previous.
    Nothing should be done without a vote of the people

    March 19, 2014 at 7:31 am

  6. J. Lee don’t worry about The Gazette’s or C4C proponents’ attempts to “discredit” council lightweights like Knight; he, King and Miller are doing a first-rate job discrediting themselves. None of these sideshow acts has any business being on the City Council in the first place. King just wants to play politics; Knight just wants to play council crank, and Miller doesn’t want to play at all. He just wants to take his toys and go home.

    Byron Baines
    March 20, 2014 at 12:20 am

  7. A project as large and expensive as C4C, whose risks are great and economic benefits are dubious, should be closely examined by the city council and county commissioners. And this examination must precede any and all plans to proceed with committing the city to build projects that will cost $600M (including financing costs) over 30 years. Sales tax revenue used to service the bonds is revenue that is not available for storm water, flood control, wildfire mitigation, infrastructure, roads, police, and other essential govt services.

    j lee
    March 20, 2014 at 10:40 am

  8. Why would anyone support a large citizen-funded project that will be located on and adjacent to a large Superfund site that will continue to pollute and potentially harm anyone in the immediate area? I’m speaking of the Colorado Springs Utilities’ Drake Power Plant, of course… A plan to build the C4C or any public attraction in this area will surely fail.

    W Reynolds
    March 22, 2014 at 12:58 pm

  9. Roads need to be fixed, weeds cut, street lights maintained and many other items addressed such as increasing crime in the city. Additional time and money should also be used to recruit low pollution corporations into the area to develop s strong business foundation that can withstand variables such as tourist volume and military base assignments. A blind push to funnel funds into a grandiose project before all else seems like a head in sand approach!

    March 24, 2014 at 11:11 am