Task force to review urban renewal branch

Glenn Wallace
Posted 8/30/12

State statutes say the Golden Urban Renewal Authority (GURA) will lose the ability to gather its share of tax revenue in 2015, effectively ending the …

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Task force to review urban renewal branch


State statutes say the Golden Urban Renewal Authority (GURA) will lose the ability to gather its share of tax revenue in 2015, effectively ending the organization.

GURA Executive Director Mark Heller said there is good reason not to end the kinds of downtown support that have been in place since 1989.

“The recipe worked. It’s resulted in a very resilient and vital downtown,” Heller said.

At the Aug. 15 City Council meeting, he received support for a proposed solution: form a task force of community members “to evaluate the establishment of a Downtown Development Authority as a type of successor entity to the downtown urban-renewal project.”

The council voted 4-0 to establish the task force; Mayor Pro Tem Joe Behm, Ward 3 Councilman and Ward 2 representative Bob Vermeulen, and Ward 1 Councilman Bill Fisher were absent.

A Downtown Development Authority could function much like GURA has, Heller said, improving a specific area of the city, and then using the resulting rise in sales and/or property tax revenue to fund even more improvements. The boundaries of the new authority could even be similar to GURA’s old area, but would be based on traditional commercial zones, not on blight conditions.

“It is, on its face, an economic-development tool,” he said.

Among the issues and questions a task force would have to study, he said, are the specifics of what a Downtown Development Authority might do, and whether the city is willing to part with future property-tax revenue.

Golden Finance Director Jeff Hansen said the total sum of money that would go into the city’s general fund instead of into GURA’s hands would be about $800,000 annually, when GURA sunsets in 2015. Starting a downtown authority could take at least some of that money back out of the city’s direct control.

“It’s fairly negligible, and would not have a huge impact on the general fund at all,” Hansen said of the sum. He said even if the city did not form a successor organization, Golden would likely carry on with several of the activities that GURA currently carries out, such as putting up and maintaining the downtown holiday lights, as well as funding increased snow plowing and trash pickup in the downtown area “to keep it looking nice and to support the vitality down there.”

Heller said a downtown authority could have boundaries that differ from GURA’s. Also, unlike an urban-renewal authority, an authority would require a vote of approval from the property owners, business leaseholders and residents within its proposed boundaries.

“We’re looking for folks who represent all those different categories to serve on the task force,” he said.

The deadline to submit an application to be on the task force is Sept. 12. Task force members would then be appointed by City Council. The group would convene through the fall and winter, delivering a final report in May. Depending on the conclusions of that report, Golden could place a downtown-development-authority question on a ballot as early as 2013 for the voters to decide.

For more information, or to apply for the task force, contact City Clerk Susan Brooks at 303-384-8014, or look for the task-force page on the city’s website, www.cityofgolden.net.


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