Rumor Guard – Wrong Again!

Carol Porter posted her comments on urban renewal on Next Door and the City’s Rumor Guard has responded to her post.  (Very interesting that this was done since no one asked a question.)  Following my opinion piece is the post by Ms. Porter and the response so you can see it for yourself.

The Rumor Guard states:

The court order in the Aurora case does hold that an urban renewal plan may not include a date in the future where the TIF clock will start. Thus, a plan may include a TIF provision that commences upon the approval of a plan, or it may choose not to start the TIF clock and subsequently amend the plan through a substantial modification at a later date. Littleton has never tried to start a clock at any date other than when the Plan was approved (or substantially modified).

Let’s take a look at this sentence by sentence.

The court order in the Aurora case does hold that an urban renewal plan may not include a date in the future where the TIF clock will start.

The court in the Aurora case did not say the plan could not include a date in the future where the TIF clock will start.  The Judge interpreted the law to say that, even if the plan includes a future date for TIF,  the TIF clock begins on the date of approval if a TIF provision is included in the plan. In other words, any language in the plan referring to a future date for starting the TIF clock is not valid.  The approval date starts the TIF clock.

Thus, a plan may include a TIF provision that commences upon the approval of a plan, or it may choose not to start the TIF clock and subsequently amend the plan through a substantial modification at a later date.

This is certainly true but has nothing to do with the situation that Ms. Porter wrote about.  The point she was making is that our council does not realize that the TIF clock has started on the entire Santa Fe Urban Renewal Plan area.  Just refer to an email from the mayor I received just yesterday (2.23.2016)

We started the property tax clock on the southern part which is what the county has calculated the baseline on.  North of approximately the RTD parcel has no TIF of any kind started…..Bruce Beckman

The TIF clock has started for both sales and property taxes for 25 years in the area north of the RTD parcel as well as the southern part Mr. Beckman refers to in his email.

This was precisely the issue that Judge Pratt ruled on in the Aurora v Sakdol.  In the Aurora case an urban renewal plan was approved by their council.  The plan contained four different areas.  It was stated in the plan that they wanted to start the TIF clock for two of the areas immediately and the other two areas within the next three years.

Following the ARL, County Assessor, Corbin Sakdol, started the TIF clock on all four areas of the plan.  Aurora took issue – they did not believe that the TIF clock should start on the two areas they stated would begin sometime in the future and they wanted Sakdol to recalculate the increment using only two of the four areas.

Even though the Santa Fe Urban Renewal Plan states that the TIF clock starts on the southern area and the other two areas will begin sometime in the future, according to the law as interpreted by Judge Pratt, the TIF clock started on all three areas the day the plan was approved.

All anyone has to do is ask the County Assessor (as I did) or use common sense.  Increment of over $3,000.00 was created for 2015 – if TIF was only on the open space where no improvements have been made there would be no increment.  The $3,000 increment represents an increase of almost $37,000 in assessed valuation of all the property in the Santa Fe Plan area less the contested agricultural land.

Littleton has never tried to start a clock at any date other than when the Plan was approved (or substantially modified).

Not true if “Littleton” is referring to the city council.  Just two weeks after the voters approved 300 requiring voter approval of urban renewal plans or modifications of, council considered starting the TIF clock on the same area that Mr. Beckman states that there is “no TIF of any kind started.”  They considered starting the TIF clock just a couple of weeks prior to the vote on 300, then tabled the motion, and returned to the motion just after the election.  It was then that council decided not to modify the plan which would have required voter’s approval per the successful passage of 300.

Council did not, and apparently Mr. Beckman still doesn’t, understand that all four urban renewal areas have been TIFed for 25 years for sales and property taxes in their entirety.  This can only be changed by a modification of a plan.

Ms. Porter’s Original Post…….

Q: Recently 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. The Fitzsimmons Urban Renwal plan had designated 4 different TIF areas with area 1 and 4 TIF beginning upon approval of the plan. Areas 2 and 3, according to the plan, would begin at a future date. The County has the authority and responsibility to “divide” the property taxes from the taxing entities and divert the 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 areas 2 and 3 would begin sometime in the future. 

Judge Pratt sided with the County Assessor and denied the motion filed by Aurora. It boils down to the plain language of the Urban Renwal law – the date the plan is approved is the date TIF starts. 

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. 

Our County Assessor has TIFed the entire Santa Fe Urban Renewal area and council and the LIFT board believe that only the south end (Ensor property) has been TIFed. (either they haven’t picked up on the fact that there are numerous properties listed in the County records as being TIFed or they are keeping silent.) 

The citizens that have watched this process unfold have wondered why the entire area has been TIFed. Those making the decisions talk about only the south end being TIFed. Let this skink in, and I will post in the future about why the discrepancy exists and just how bad this is for the Littleton taxpayers.  (Carol Porter, Nextdoor, February 16)

Rumor Guard……………  

A: The court order in the Aurora case does hold that an urban renewal plan may not include a date in the future where the TIF clock will start. Thus, a plan may include a TIF provision that commences upon the approval of a plan, or it may choose not to start the TIF clock and subsequently amend the plan through a substantial modification at a later date. Littleton has never tried to start a clock at any date other than when the Plan was approved (or substantially modified).

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: