Public hearing on Urban Renewal Authority

January 18, 2012

Garfield County, Silt

Silt Public Hearing
Monday, January 23, 2012
Silt Town Hall
7:00 P.M.

The Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing to determine the need for an Urban Renewal Authority.

Related articles —

Public asked to weigh in on Silt ‘urban renewal’ strategy
Mayor remains hopeful about Garfield County grant

An Urban Renewal Authority could improve Silt’s economy
By Rick Aluise, Mayor Pro-Tem

A public hearing is not enough. An Urban Renewal Authority ordinance should be put before the voters as a ballot issue in a town election. In 2010, voters in Castle Pines, Colorado, voted 2 to 1 to abolish the town’s Urban Renewal Authority ordinance.

Urban Renewal Authority Voted Down, But Why

I have many concerns about the Urban Renewal Authority in Silt. Truth is, I know very little about it, and even less about Tax Increment Financing (TIF). Common sense tells me that TIF would work best if it is used as a tool to advance an ongoing process with a committed developer, and it would be less effective as a speculative tool to attract development, which appears to be the case in Silt. I am not aware of any commercial development currently asking for incentives.

As for the whole “blight” thing – designating 32 blocks as blighted and in need of redevelopment – naturally I am concerned. In his Op-Ed piece, Aluise said, “The URA can also buy, sell and lease property. In addition, it even has the power to condemn property. The Silt Board of Trustees have indicated no desire to condemn property.”

What a loaded statement! I won’t even go into the problem I have with the town acting as a realtor, I’m more concerned about the “power to condemn”.

Urban Renewal Authority grants extreme powers to the town. According to Aluise the current board “has no desire to condemn property”.  He is implying that the current board will pick and choose among the provisions set forth under Colorado’s urban renewal laws (31-25-101 C.R.S.), and will apply only those they think are best for the town. By adopting that smorgasbord approach – which seems reasonable assuming we trust the current board to act in the town’s best interests – they will set a precedent. Call me paranoid, but I can see how a less civic-minded future town board could abuse the power to condemn property. We once had a mayor who wanted to require front porches on all houses. The history of Silt has been a long, strange trip.

Silt River Preserve Annexation

Another big deal agenda item on January 23, will be the first public hearing in the annexation process for the 132-acre Silt River Preserve. Antero has plans to drill in the area where the Silt River Preserve is located. When the property is annexed, the town will have more say in any gas drilling activity in the area. Thanks to Community Development Director Janet Aluise for moving this process forward as quickly as possible. I expect the annexation will pass unanimously. I assume the mayor and trustees understand the high stakes.

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3 Comments on “Public hearing on Urban Renewal Authority”

  1. Carl Mc Williams Says:

    To We the People of Silt, Colorado:

    I can document my professional involvement in local government economic development dating back over 30 years. In the 1980’s & 1990’s I was involved in California Redevelopment Agencies, (the equivalent to Colorado Urban Renewal Authorities) in the Cities of San Bernardino, Victorville and Barstow and the issuance of multi-million dollars in Tax-Increment” and Tax Allocation Bonds on numerous urban renewal projects.

    In observing the efforts by the Town of Silt to establish an Urban renewal Authority, (URA) unfortunately the Mayor and Trustees have failed to educate the citizens on the enormous economic benefits an Urban Renewal Authority can bring to all of Silt, including the property owners within the designated “URA Project Area”.

    The URA is not a new economic development tool. These “redevelopment agencies” were first authorized in federal legislation in the 1950’s and all the states soon adopted statures allowing for increasing real property tax-increments to be redirected, from the local county assessor, to the local URA; IF SOLELY USED WHERE PRIVATE SECTOR CAPITAL WILL NOT VENTURE. [NOTE: Please be cognizant; the lack of private sector investment in the local Silt real estate market is the sole-reason for the establishment of an Urban Renewal Authority.]

    That said, the property owners within the Silt “URA Project Area” will reap the benefits of increased property values because of the URA designation. This is because the tax-increment revenue stream is used by the URA for improving and building infrastructure. Therefore, the actual costs of the new infrastructure is in fact financed by the general fund of Garfield County. Thus, the property owners of all of Garfield County subsidize the citizens of Silt in the costs of upgrading the URA Project Area’s streets, sidewalks, sewers, water systems traffic signals, etc.

    Beyond that, once the URA is authorized by the Silt voters and the “Project Area” is established; Garfield County realtors will have a brand new tool to approach property owners within the Silt URA Project Area to “List Their Property” for resale to investors and developers because all of the new infrastructure will be de facto “FREE” because the general fund of Garfield County is financing the infrastructure improvements and not the buyer of the real estate in the Silt URA Project Area.

    Furthermore, should any property in the Silt URA Project Area be condemned; the property owners will be under the full protection of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and will be fully compensated for the real value of the property at the time of condemnation; which will be after the property has been designated within the Silt URA Project Area. I know of numerous occasions in California, where once the local city announced the preliminary feasibility studies of a new redevelopment project area, the real estate speculators flocked to the property owners within the proposed project area to buy the property at the lower prices (before the fact) in order to reap the real property increase because of the soon coming redevelopment agency moneys. If you own property within the proposed Silt URA Project Area, I suggest you should rejoice that the Mayor and Trustees of Silt are attempting to increase the value and desire-ability of your property by forming the Urban Renewal Authority.

    One final thought: It was less than two years ago that the former Silt Town Manager, had proposed a Town Budget with a deficit of over $265,000.00. Mayor Dave Moore, Mayor Pro Tem Rick Aluise, Trustee Paul Taylor and Trustee Bryan Fleming ran for office on a platform of fiscal responsibility and economic development. Within the first year, (with the active and aggressive participation of Trustee Sony Fernandez), these five balanced the Town’s budget. Their “track record” in the first two years speaks volumes about these five Silt leaders.

    I politely suggest to We the People of Silt, to vote a resounding yes to the proposed Silt Urban Renewal Authority.

    Carl Mc Williams

  2. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    Thanks Carl, your insight is valuable and definitely to be considered. I don’t take anything away from the current board for their ability to balance the budget and do what’s best for the town. They have done an excellent job. What you lack in your analysis is the history of Silt town government, Let me put it this way, imagine the URA under the previous town administration and board that was ousted in 2010. Gives me the chills.

  3. Nick Says:

    I’m trying to get in contact with Carl. I’ve got some information he will likely be interested in regarding the role of our trustees in Western Colorado.

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