Citizen Minutes – 20 January 2016 Regular Council Meeting

Littleton City Council Regular Meeting                                           19 January 2016

Submitted by Carol Brzeczek

Peggy Cole was absent. 

Bruce Beckman asked if there were any agenda changes and Doug Clark said he had three. Beckman told him that changes were problematic and if he had issues with the city manager he should handle those outside the council meeting. Clark said he tried but got nowhere. Beckman asked Clark to address his concerns in the Reports section of the meeting. Continue reading

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City Suing County – To Be Heard in District Court on Jan. 22, 2016 – In Littleton

The City of Littleton is suing Corban Sakdol, Arapahoe County 
Assessor, over the makeup of the city s Santa Fe Urban Renewal Area.

In 2010 the state legislature put strict limitations on blighting 
agricultural land and including that land in urban renewal areas 
because of what the legislature considered to be abuses of urban renewal by 
cities in Colorado. The Santa Fe Urban Renewal Plan includes a
substantial amount of agricultural land, mainly south of Mineral 
between Santa Fe Drive and the South Platte River – the so called 
Ensor property. The assessor has determined, as required by state law, 
that the inclusion of the agricultural land in the urban renewal 
plan does not conform to state law. The city of Littleton is suing Corban 
Sakdol to overturn his decision. That trial starts at 8:45 AM this 
Friday, Jan 22, 2016, at 1790 W Littleton Blvd., court C-1.

The Ensor property sprang into the news last October 2015 when the 
Villager Newspaper ran a story quoting council member Debbie
Brinkman as saying a Wal-Mart and Sam s Club were coming to 
Littleton on that property. The City Council created the Santa Fe 
Urban Renewal Plan in November 2014 in order to provide incentives for the 
development of the Ensor property, and the City Manager
announced 2 weeks ago the property was under contract to a 
developer. This trial will determine whether that property can 
remain in the urban renewal plan and therefore receive millions in incentives 
through urban renewal.

Attorney Position on Resolution to Restrict the Use of Public Money for Development on the Ensor Property

From our city attorney to council.

Council,

Michael told me there had been a question regarding the sales tax increment and asked me to follow up with outside counsel to clarify the council’s role in transferring the sales tax increment from the City to LIFT.  I have done so and Corey Hoffman’s response is below.
Please let this email clarify our conversation regarding the implementation of sales tax increment previously approved in an urban renewal plan. 
 
Using the Santa Fe Urban Renewal Plan as an example, Section 7.3 authorizes property and sales tax increment, and as it relates to sales tax increment, Section 7.3.2 defines the base amount of municipal sales tax.    
 
For purposes of property tax, the county treasurer pursuant to C.R.S. § 31-25-107(9) pays property tax increment directly into the “special fund” of the urban renewal authority.  Thus, upon the approval of property tax increment, the increment is transmitted to the special fund without any further action of the City (by the county treasurer). 
 
However, as it relates to municipal sales tax increment, while the sale tax increment is specifically authorized by C.R.S. § 31-25-107(9), the mechanism for collection and transfer is not included in the statute.  In other words, it refers to municipal sales tax collection and requires payments of sales tax increment into the special fund, but does not describe how the disbursement is made.  Thus, in order to implement the sales tax component of an urban renewal undertaking or activity, the City and LIFT would need to both approve an Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement that requires collection of the sales tax and transfer of the sales tax increment into the special fund.  I have pasted sample language below (taken from another jurisdiction).
 
                “The City agrees to assist the Authority by pursuing all lawful procedures and remedies available to it to collect and transfer to the Authority on a timely basis all Pledged Sales Tax Increment Revenues for deposit into the Project Account of the Special Fund.  The City agrees that so long as the Note remains outstanding, that by the last business day of each month that it will remit to the Authority for deposit into the Project Account of the Special Fund all Pledged Sales Tax Increment Revenues collected by the City in such month.
 
                To the extent lawfully possible, the City will take no action that would have the effect of reducing tax collections that constitute Pledged Tax Increment Revenues.”
 
It is my understanding that bond attorneys would insist on such a cooperation agreement to confirm the collection and transfer of sales tax increment by the City to the special fund to secure any indebtedness.
Please let me know if you have any questions.

Kristin Schledorn
City Attorney

2255 West Berry Avenue
Littleton, Colorado 80120
(303) 795-3725  

Continue reading

City Council Study Session – 12 January 2016

Littleton City Council Study Session            Citizen Minutes         12 January 2016

Submitted by Carol Brzeczek

The last item on the agenda is the most interesting – an update on the Ensor property that is located at Mineral and Santa Fe. The land has been included in the Santa Fe Urban Renewal Plan and Endeavor has a contract with the Ensors. They are waiting the outcome of the dispute of the lawsuit the city filed against the county’s exclusion of the agricultural land in the urban renewal plan. The outcome will determine whether or not Endeavor will have an opportunity to use tax increment financing for the next 25 years. Not a small chunk of change and tax dollars that would have gone to the General Fund. Continue reading

County Responds to Michael Penny’s Request to Refund TIF

The Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) responded to Michael Penny’s request for their approval of an IGA to refund all TIF money collected to the County.  There appears to be a change in what Mr. Penny first proposed to the BOCC on July 27, 2015 and the IGA submitted.  The County prefers the July 27th representation and they are only offered that if they will withdraw their law suit on the inclusion of ag land in the Santa Fe Urban Renewal Area.  The Council is told that the BOCC is not party to the suit and has no control in that litigation.  (That suit is against our County Assessor – an elected official.)  One has nothing to do with the other.
Follow the link to read the Dec. 7, 2015 letter from the City’s attorney, Corey Hoffman and the County’s response dated January 5, 2016.

WalMart/Sam’s Club – Urban Renewal and Council

I mentioned in an earlier post that to discuss the Ensor property (site of possible new Walmart and Sam’s Club) without discussing urban renewal is discussing only half of the story.  And, to discuss the subject with any certainty prior to the outcome of the legal dispute is just speculating.

So, the story is………….. Continue reading

Update on Walmart/Sam’s Club with Debbie Brinkman as Requested by HOA – January 7, 2016

In response to the concerns about a Walmart and Sam’s Club in their back yard the Palisades HOA asked Debbie Brinkman for an update.  A meeting was scheduled for Jan. 7th in the Community Room which was standing room only with overflow out the doors.  Council person Brinkman began the meeting by saying the meeting was intended to be with a neighborhood but had grown larger than expected and it would end at 7pm.  She then provided a short history of the current zoning on the land.  The zoning came about back in the mid 80’s when the city negotiated with the owners of the property – the Ensor family.  In exchange for the zoning the Ensor’s provided land to the city that allowed Mineral to be built to the west across the river.

The Ensor’s have a property right to their zoning she said.

City Manager, Michael Penny, said developers came in and looked at the “base zoning” to see what could be built as a use by right (means a public process would not be required).  The value of the property is what you can build on it and this site has massive development potential.  The asking price for the property is $25,000,000 and it will require $17,000,000 to $20,000,000 in public improvements.  Penny said the Ensor property and the Dish Network properties are the only two that he thinks an urban renewal project will take place.  There are two primary reasons to use urban renewal – LIFT (the urban renewal authority) can bond and can take tax dollars away from other taxing entities (tax increment financing). Continue reading