LIFT Board Meeting 08.19.2016 – Executive Director Terminated

LIFT Meeting

19 August 2016

Justin Hay, Ryan Toole, Craig O’Rourke, Kyle Schlachter, Gary Thompson, and LaDonna Jurgensen were present. Jim Collins was absent.

An opportunity for public input was offered. Carol Brzeczek asked LIFT if the public would have an opportunity to address them at the end of the meeting after the public had had the opportunity to listen to the board’s discussion. Justin Hay, Chair, said he did not see any action items on the agenda and he wasn’t inclined to provide the public with an opportunity to address them later. Kyle Schlachter made a motion to allow citizen input at the end of the meeting. His motion was seconded and passed.

Jim Rees, Executive Director, provided an update on their financial condition. The short and sweet of it all is:

 

Increment collected from the Santa Fe UR Plan area                               $     3,025.05

Increment collected from the Littleton Blvd UR Plan area                       $   20,758.27

Increment collected from the No Broadway UR Plan area                       $232,401.26

They plan on returning per an agreement once they know their fate.

They have incurred expenses for 2016 in the amount of $7,759.64.They still have a debt to the city for $150,000.00

What is missing from the financial information were the billings from the city for the services that the city staff has provided. Also, the point was made at a council meeting that the letters of agreement have not been signed by the parties involved. There is a question if there are agreements as agreements area usually signed by all the parties involved.

The financial reports were approved.

Attorney Cory Hoffman told the board that the Court had decided in the County’s favor and that the right of ways inclusion in the Santa Fe Ur Plan wasn’t proper. The City needs to take the ag land property out of the UR plans. Gary Thompson asked if it would require a vote – Hoffman said no it just needs to be taken out.

New Business 

Hay presented a document put together by the city staff and Jim Rees – their Goals and Objectives. Rees said the work was done after listening to the council’s discussion on UR. Hay thought a policy for the use of TIF should be put in place that would address specifically how TIF funds would be spent – infrastructure, parks, signage, design guidelines….

Hoffman was asked what the TIF money could be spent on and he said there wasn’t much limitation. What he thought was most important to the council was how theTIF funds will be spent.

Hoffman said there are a lot of ways to do redevelopment. Urban renewal is a mechanism for public improvement to encourage future developers. If council goes forward with UR and would like to work with you on infrastructure improvements within the UR areas that is a larger discussion.

LaDonna Jurgensen asked if it was a matter of priorities or limits. Rees said he thought council wanted to limit it in some fashion.

Ryan Toole said he did not hear it the same. He hear it was more of a general dissatisfaction of the entire program and the need for it in Littleton. He thought having a policy for the use of TIF was a good place to start.

Schlachter said we have plans but the council does not like the plans.   He moved to require city council to provide direction for each UR area. Craig O’Rourke agreed completely – we need council to gell us what their vision is – council needs to tell us what to do.

Hoffman said it is not black and white – it is hard to undertake any of this without knowing the council’s global plan. Tool said the perception in the development community and it is a problem attracting developers to the UR areas. Hay said if they put something in motion to show them it would be a good direction to take.

Rees said when council meets they do not get down to a specific level. Let’s give them something to react to. Toole wanted to get council’s approval of their work plan for one year. We are asking them to approve our existence for another year. Jurgensen said if they can do this hey don’t need us and she had the impression that council wants to direct the projects – then what are we doing here?

Hoffman said council can look at UR on a plan basis, abolish LIFT and repeal all the plans, or put a question to the voters to allow the council to be the UR Authority. He felt certain that if the council opted to keep UR for another year the short term goals and objectives were obtainable.

Gary Thompson said perhaps they need to do nothing until a decision is made. Toole thought council would benefit by knowing that LIFT had a plan and it is important that we understand the process and be ready to go forward. We need a real project. It is not the board’s responsibility to executive the project from the ground up. We could decide to do infrastructure hoping to attract development projects.

Hoffman explained that the developer for Columbine Square presented their plan to the staff and the staff was not comfortable with the plan so it wasn’t ready for LIFT. Rees said they needed direction on which plan to implement. He was sure there were a lot of property owners that didn’t know the opportunities available to them.

Hay liked the idea of using the goals and objectives as a framework to show council ad get direction from them on each plan. Show them we have an action plan.

Toole thought there was a nuance to this – he did not want to limit TIF to only projects approved and mandated by the city’s public works dept. We need to understand their wish list. Toole thought the goals and objectives needed to be submitted as it is – a draft business plan for the authority. At a minimum this says if we continue this is what we need to do. It gives council some reason to be optimistic. Hay said it could be given to council in their packet.

There was a brief discussion on the way a project would come to them – does it go to the planning board first? Where’s the line between the planning board and LIFT?   Rees said the planning department comes first – it is a sequential process – the chicken and the egg. Do the Neighborhood Plans come first? There should be a trigger point in the process when a project comes to us.

Schlachter said they had talked about having a workshop for developers and they should have one for staff. He would like to see design guidelines for each area. Hay said he liked that but there was a gray area between them and planning. Toole said at the project level the design overlay has to be approved by council. It is very hard to do (design guidelines) for these very large linear districts. He was hoping that ocundil would see them as forward looking and that would give confidence to council to help them improve.

O’Rourke said he heard about the mistrust regarding their finances, that they are bullies with their agenda. Education is a big thing with staff and the public.

New Business

Hay moved to terminate the executive direction immediately. There were not projects and there is no need for the position. Their budget doesn’t support an executive director. The need to eliminate the executive director was mentioned in a previous council meeting – this will show a step in the right direction. Other members have expressed their concerns that if there is an opportunity for UR to survive if they resigned they were willing to step down so a new board could be seated.

Hoffman said Rees had a 30 day notice requirement in his contract. Someone told Hay that, as chair, he could not make the motion. Jurgensen moved to terminate the executive director contract as soon as possible. Schlachter seconded.

Johnson said this had nothing to do with Rees’ performance. Toole agreed and expressed his concern about how they would function without an exec director. Who will work with the city staff to prepare the financials – Hay said Tiffany Wooten and Wendy Heffner on city staff had been there to provide documents and he would be willing to take that role. Toole wanted to know what would happen when a project comes forward. Hay said they could build a structure around that project.

Jurgensen said they needed a fresh start if they are to continue. She has not been happy with the communication between LIFT and the city and it is why we are where we are. As soon as we have a project we will need an executive director.

Schlachter said communication has been an issue. He asked Hoffman how they were to communicate with each other without violating the open meetings law. Hoffman said do not use “reply to all” as that will constitute a meeting. That does not prevent you from emailing to another member. Some committees use a staff person as an executive director. Hoffman said he would work with Hay to figure out how they will work and reminded everyone that their emails are subject to CORA.

Toole asked if this was an attempt to appease the council. Hay said it was one of the reasons he stated earlier. It will be good for our board to refresh and renew. Toole asked if it improved their chance of survival. Hay said “who knows.”

Motion passed 5/1 with Toole dissenting.

Public Comment

Jeanie Erickson got interested in UR 3 years ago when the former city manager decided to find blight in large areas of Littleton.  Littleton is developing as the economy allows – as it should be.  She spoke about the reasons why she supported the abolishment of LIFT. It is a mess and there were no projects.  She thanked the members of the board for their service.  UR is not right for Littleton.  There is no interest by developers.

Carol Brzeczek said even the former city manager said mistakes were made every step of the way with LIFT. She asked, if LIFT survived, that there be a litmus test for using TIF for infrastructure projects – is it really worth taking tax dollars from the schools, parks, city and county to pay for infrastructure that should be paid for by our tax dollars. When they take taxes for increment and return it the tax payers are paying a higher tax unnecessarily.  And, if they survived, they should do what none of them had done with the exception of Kyle Schlachter – talk with the community members that have raised issues.

Marty Brzeczek asked for a more complete set of financials – one that would include all the services provided to LIFT by the city staff.

 

 

 

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