UCCS chancellor wants C4C resolution changed


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Shockley-Zalabak: Wants wording changed, "no question." - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Shockley-Zalabak: Wants wording changed, "no question."
The city's proposed resolution with the state for how the City for Champions tourism venture would be developed has taken a few lumps lately.

Earlier this week, City Council President Keith King, four councilors and El Paso County Commission Chair Dennis Hisey expressed disdain over the resolution, which appears to cut everyone out of the decision process and put Mayor Steve Bach in charge of almost all decisions.

Not only do they want the resolution changed, they also are pushing to put the stadium project, the only one that will require local tax money, to a vote of the people.

Now, Pam Shockley-Zalabak, chancellor of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, joins that chorus, saying she wants to see the resolution changed also — "no question."

City for Champions would build a sports medicine center at UCCS, as well as a downtown stadium, Olympic museum and a visitors center at the Air Force Academy.

The crux of the dispute lies in a clause in the city's 19-page draft resolution that states "the applicant," which is defined as the city "acting solely through its Mayor or the Mayor's designee":
shall enter into agreements with each Project Element for the design, constriction [sic], ownership, and maintenance of Eligible Improvements for their respective Project Element, or may cause them to be designed, constructed, owned, operated, and maintained by others in accordance with all applicable laws, ordinances, standards, policies, and specifications.
King and others see this, as well as other provisions in the resolution, as enabling Bach to do whatever he wishes with the venues, including decide who owns them. As currently proposed, they say, the resolution lacks checks and balances and accountability, not to mention transparency.

We asked Shockley-Zalabak about the wording. Her response:
It certainly came onto my radar. We’re not at a point yet to be in any negotiation for an agreement, because there has to be a resolution first. I would certainly hope that when we begin our discussion that language would be modified, because obviously our project is on university property and can’t be developed by another entity, but it also is an educational and research project which is what makes it unique as a sports medicine and performance facility. It has additional dimensions.

I would want it modified, and it could be modified in the resolution or the actual agreement that we’ll negotiate with the city.

It is my understanding I will have an opportunity to comment on anything before it goes forward. Yes, I would want that modified. No question. I can’t even do that [give up authority] if I wanted to because of how we are in the [state] Constitution and what our chain of authority is. I feel we will get that worked out. I’m an optimist. But yet, I would want that changed. No question.
Bach has said he's committed to working "collaboratively" with City Council and others.

Jason Dunn, with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP in Denver, who's been paid $150,000 to handle the city's application, says the first draft of the resolution is just that, a first draft. "We are taking the first stab at drafting it, but my assumption is it will be back and forth with OEDIT [Office of Economic Development and International Trade] staff," he says, adding that the Economic Development Commission could impose whatever conditions it sees fit. "It’s very wide open, what they can say."

Jeff Kraft, director of business funding and incentives with OEDIT, says the EDC, which granted the city a percentage of state sales tax rebates over the next 30 years, is likely to discuss the resolution at its April 10 meeting, along with a "milestone" report submitted by the city last weekend.

The city hopes those rebates total $120.5 million, which is roughly 19 percent of the total project cost when interest on debt is added.

"There will be some discussion on what we received and what information was provided and when additional information will become available," Kraft says. "Some of the milestones are supposed to include forecasted timelines and when various types of funding will become available. There’s room for additional information to be provided. We’re asking [the city] to provide more detail."

Kraft said although letters of dissent, such as King's March 17 missive to Bach that was copied to the EDC, will be provided to the EDC, the chief interest of the state is protecting the state's interest and assuring the money spent does, in fact, result in net new out-of-state visitors to Colorado. So it's unclear whether the EDC would take up the cause of local officials who disagree with the resolution's wording.

Kraft gave no timeline for when a resolution would be approved. He also says the city shouldn't expect to see any state money until toward the end of the year. That's because the state tax increment financing requires the state to receive revenues equal to the baseline revenues collected, as established in 2013, plus a growth factor of 1.5 percent. The city gets anything above 13.08 percent of anything above that amount.

"It would be in the November-December timeframe depending on how much growth has occurred," he said.


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