Mar 18, 2014 1:44 AM by Maddie Garrett
More than half of the Colorado Springs City Council signed a letter, stating their dissatisfaction with a recently released Resolution that establishes the City for Champions relationship to the Colorado Economic Development Commission. A press conference was headed up by City Council President Keith King and El Paso County Board of Commissioners Chair Dennis Hisey Monday afternoon, openly criticizing the plan and asking for change.
"We have serious issues," said Hisey at the conference.
King added, "The way it is structured is totally unacceptable."
Both local leaders state their biggest concern was over the lack of checks and balances they found in the plans.
"It's not transparent, it doesn't have any checks and balances with it, virtually all of the power has been vested with the Mayor," said King.
The City for Champions resolution was released by Mayor Steve Bach Friday evening, and it outlines how the four projects will proceed. The resolution must be submitted to the State by April 16, 2014.
"We want to make sure that the mayor and the EDC (Economic Development Commission) know that we are not happy with the structure of it and we don't think it's the way for it to be done over a 30 year period of time," said King.
King's concerns mostly center around the Downtown Sports and Event Center, which is the only project that will use local public dollars, mainly through Tax Increment Financing or TIF's. King thinks the plans as written now, give the Mayor too much control over the sports center project.
"The Mayor has the ability to appoint a committee to own it, to build it, to construct it, to do all the legal work and it's all at the discretion of the Mayor," explained King.
King is not alone in thinking that is too much control bestowed solely to Mayor Bach.
"There are partners in this, and those partners need to be involved, they need to part of the decision making process," said Hisey.
King and other council members are not wholly against the Downtown Sports and Events Center, but have doubts about how it will be paid for and a burden on tax-payers as the project will be financed over 30 years. King and Hisey said they would like more time for the project to be vetted and seek other funding sources other than using TIF's and urban renewal funds.
Even if a new tax isn't raised to fund the sports stadium, King and other council members said they would like to see the project go to a vote given it's size and long term impacts.
Mayor Bach issued a statement in response to King's press conference Monday:
"Regrettably, neither City Council President Keith King or El Paso County Commission Chair Dennis Hisey called me to discuss their concerns before sending their letter. What is more disappointing is that they and I had lunch today at my suggestion with Tom Neppl, Chair of the Regional Business Alliance, to talk about economic development. Neither Keith or Dennis mentioned the letter. I will continue to work collaboratively with City Council, County Commissioners, Mayors of outlying municipalities and fellow citizens as we proceed through a thoughtful, in depth due diligence on C4C. As I have said repeatedly, I support C4C in concept subject to becoming comfortable along with a majority of other community leaders in the economics and assurance that there will be no tax increase associated with the project or any tax payer risk. In the end, it will be City Council which has, as they already know, ultimate authority on whether the Downtown Sports and Events Center is built."