Steve Lewis

Steve Lewis 1 month ago on Scott Bideau: URA frustrations

It wasn't arguable doubt, it was complete contradiction. Council saying the BID was for URA project maintenance and the BID board insisting it was not for URA project maintenance. Scott Ford was at the BID informational meeting and heard what I heard. Jim Stanko of the VFW was focused on this point as well.


Steve Lewis 1 month ago on Scott L. Ford: TIF is a bag of snakes

I would be happier if the City simplified its approach to these big items. The lumping of basic infrastructure spending in with amenities spending in the URA has made it huge. Do I have to support the URA's promenade and park improvements to get our sidewalks completed?

The police station project was been bundled with several dance partners; Big Agnes, the Iron Horse, medical arts of the hospital. Meanwhile the fire station below the police station can't get a dance at all.

Can we hold the police and fire station as a standalone choice, the sidewalks as a standalone, promenade as a standalone, park improvements as standalone…… lay out the pros/cons/costs and then pick the best one to do first? Later choose a next one as our budget allows?

I have to agree with Scott Ford. These spending questions belong back in the capital improvements queue, with subsequent councils given a choice too.


Steve Lewis 1 month ago on Scott Bideau: URA frustrations

Thanks for posting the quotes. Amazing research.

BTW, the BID did not fail because downtown owners are unwilling to contribute. The BID failed because the use of the tax revenue was undefined.

The "No BID, No URA" promise had another ugly aspect. With that motion, Council set in motion a BID campaign that equated a vote against the BID as a vote against needed infrastructure. Needed sidewalks were held hostage as leverage to gain the open-ended BID tax. It was coercion. And intimidation. My quotes in a Pilot article told everyone that I was standing in the way of needed infrastructure.

The motion was smart politics. Impossible to respect now that they don't really mean it, but a smart trick to play.


Steve Lewis 1 month ago on From the editor: Having the right and doing right are 2 different things

Damian, Thanks for your service. I mean that. I have no doubt that yours is the toughest job.

You are right: "people do not realize" and "there is no balance". It seems fair to say, it is past time for some realization and some balancing. Our tourism economy and the never-ending marketing of this town mean its easier to avoid this discussion than it is to have it. We need a serious newspaper for balance, else we will continue to have no clue of the problems you discuss.

Lawsuits? Definitely some are frivolous. But the justice system and courts are the only system we, or anyone, can turn to for fairness. Not perfect. But it is all we have.


Steve Lewis 1 month ago on From the editor: Having the right and doing right are 2 different things

If a series of excessive force events similar to Ferrugia have gone unreported, Rob is also absolutely right to question the Pilot's journalism. Lisa?


Steve Lewis 1 month, 1 week ago on Lower fuel costs mitigating expense of ski season flight program at Yampa Valley Regional Airport

I disagree with the LMD betting the farm every year. Rebates from good years should be creating a reserve to soften the impacts of by poor snow, fuel spikes or economic conditions. This reserve was a promised result of the Yes2Air campaign for our sales tax subsidy.


Steve Lewis 1 month, 1 week ago on Sam Jones: Facts about URA elusive

Credit the Pilot with providing the links below Sam's letter. John Spezia and Paul Strong exemplify the manner with which we used to approach decisions. Today, after a few false starts, the police station project has seen several "open house" presentations and is receiving healthy attention and debate. The URA?


Steve Lewis 1 month, 1 week ago on Sam Jones: Facts about URA elusive

John Spezia raised these questions about the previous URA in a letter to the editor, and council president Paul Strong later responded to them in a letter to the editor:

The undeveloped land in the URA,..., when built out will generate exponential tax-increment financing (TIF) property tax that will go to URA and not to all the services, needed support systems and districts that are necessary to meet the new growth demands. Sales tax and the restricted property tax will not support these new needs. How will the URA make up this difference?

Where would this money from the TIF originally go and what services and districts will not receive this money they ordinarily receive?

What is the process to change the boundaries if the public or the districts affected do not think they are working?

Commitment by property owners and developers is needed. The public and the districts need to see the following information from the developers or owners on their private property: A timeline for development, a physical plan for remodels or new buildings, the money commitment for a funding source for the URA, and a maintenance plan so they do not become "blighted" again.

A guarantee that inflation costs will be covered for all parties affected. Will the county's incremental tax increase of the base line that occurs every two years be sufficient to cover this?

Who controls the URA, who is on the URA board? Does the public have a seat on the board, who elects or appoints the board, how can they be removed, can the public have real input on these matters?

The state has reduced its shortfall to about $260 million after severely cutting back on roads, prisons, education and social services. The next areas to receive even more cuts are the schools as well as other vital social services. How can the state make up the shortfall to schools or other needs if this extra property tax goes to URA?

How many public meetings are planned to educate the public?

How much weight does the URA board give to public input? Can the public appeal through an inexpensive process? What is the process for rejecting the URA now or in the future? What are the legal means based on a home-rule charter?

How will the URA impact the city's bonding ratings? What if the URA can't fund the city's liability for these bonds?

What is the time period for the bond indebtedness? Can we change the time period if it is impacting the community negatively?

Most of the "blight" photos are of private land. Why don't the owners undertake better maintenance of their property? How will the community be assured they will do so in the future?

Why has there been no discussion on alternative solutions to the "blight"? What are some of the other methods that do not tax the community but those that directly benefit?


Steve Lewis 1 month, 1 week ago on City Council, School Board discuss downtown urban renewal plan

Likely Kenny refers to the Anne Ricker studies and report done for this URA. I saw her preliminary presentation here in Spring of 2013, her firm is maybe the top URA specialist in Colorado, and she said the same thing as Kenny.

I have asked the city several times to see the Ricker consulting for this URA. They've had it for over a year. It is fundamental to understanding the projections and fiscal ramifications of the proposed URA. It may be poppycock or it may exceedingly sound. Either way the city should have released and described the relevance of the URA consulting it received long ago.

Unreleased consultant reports? Seriously?