Aurora Sues County Assessor – Court Decides in Favor of the County – Mirrors Littleton with Regard to TIF

On Jan. 19, 2016 a decision was made in the case of Aurora v Corbin Sakdol in an urban renewal dispute that parallels circumstances in Littleton regarding our own urban renewal plans.

The Aurora case was about the start of the tax increment financing (TIF) clock.  Aurora claims that the Fitzsimmons UR plan designated 4 different TIF areas with the TIF for areas 1 and 4  beginning upon approval of the plan.  Areas 2 and 3, according to the plan, would begin at a future date but within three years. Aurora believed, because their plan called out the TIFing of only areas 1 and 4 that that would be all that was TIFed.

However, the County has the authority and legal responsibility to “divide” the property taxes from the taxing entities and divert those tax dollars to the urban renewal authority.  The County started implementing TIF for all 4 areas and Aurora contested that action referring back to their plan that specifically stated that areas 2 and 3 TIF would begin sometime in the future

Aurora sued Arapahoe County Assessor because the Assessor’s office TIFed all four areas of the plan

You might wonder why this is relevant to Littleton.  We have 4 urban renewal plans that all provide for the provision of TIF – sales and property taxes for 25 years.

We have a very similar situation with our Santa Fe Urban Renewal Plan. The area was divided into three sections and the plan states that only the south area would be TIFed at this time

The County Assessor has TIFed the entire Santa Fe Urban Renewal area and council and LIFT think only the south end (Ensor property) has been TIFed.  (Don’t know why they haven’t picked up on the fact that there are numerous properties listed in the County records as being TIFed but they haven’t or they have kept silent or they just don’t know.  They even contemplated approving a modification to the Santa Fe Plan to TIF the two areas but decided not to as a result of the passage of 300.  They may not realize, even now, that they entire area has been TIFed.  (Doug Clark does know this but he appears to be the only council member that does.))

Judge Pratt sided with the County Assessor and denied the motion filed by Aurora.  It boils down to the plain language of the UR law – actually the same section that I have read to council a number of times.  The date the plan is approved is the date TIF starts.  (31.25.107(9)(a)

In Littleton we have four urban renewal areas that have been TIFed for both property and sales taxes for 25 years. That means taxes intended to go to the schools, parks, the county and Littleton’s own General Fund will be “divided” and deposited into LIFT’s special fund as required by law for the next 25 years.  The first year of property tax increment that will be deposited into LIFT’s special fund exceeds $266,000; $169,330 of that should have gone to LPS.  The increments will get larger and larger as the 25 years pass.  The City has refused to even establish the base for the sales tax increment.  The base has to be established in order to know what is increment.

 

 

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