Summit County entities supportive of urban renewal in Dillon
summit daily news
SUMMIT COUNTY – County services could potentially suffer from Dillon Urban Renewal Authority’s impending tax siphoning, yet Lake Dillon Fire Protection District, Summit County’s government and the Summit School District remain mostly supportive of the concept. Still, some concerns remain over the tax increment financing (TIF) aspect of the redevelopment plan.
“It sounds like people think (urban renewal) will help,” said county manager Gary Martinez. “If this improves the business climate in those areas, it’s good for the whole county.”
Martinez also said he likes the concept of redeveloping existing areas, instead of open land found between the four towns.
“I don’t want endless development up and down corridors,” he added.
Even so, a main concern about urban renewal stems from Dillon Urban Renewal Authority’s (DURA) potentially lessening revenues to other agencies that rely on taxes to fund countywide services.
Dillon’s town manager Devin Granbery said an authority doesn’t impose new taxes – what it does is capture incremental increases in property and sales taxes coming from rising sales. It takes that money and finances new public improvement projects, and it provides incentives for developers and private investments.
The Dillon TIF district hasn’t been created yet, but it will likely be approved within the next few months, Granbery said.
If this happens, the county, the school district and the fire district could be affected.
How would this work? For example, the fire district gets a certain amount of revenue based on a mill levy. If there’s growth, it would expect more revenue to be generated by taxes. But with a TIF district, any additional revenue created by growth (like new construction or improvements that raise property values) won’t go to the fire district. Instead, service funding stays at a fixed rate determined by property values before the TIF district was put into place, and revenues from new growth stays with the town for future redevelopment.
So, county services wouldn’t lose funding from Dillon – it just wouldn’t see its funding grow like it otherwise would.
“Now the new revenue generated by new growth stays there (with the town) to pay off improvements,” Martinez said. “It’s a very good way to finance improvements in an area and stimulate business growth.”
Different taxing entities will eventually get more money for services, but that’s after Dillon’s repayment period is complete – that could take up to 25 years.
The county provides lots of services used by all four towns – jails, public health, libraries, the Sheriff’s Office, courts, the district attorney, snow plowing and social services.
Lake Dillon Fire District chief Dave Parmley said county fire services rely on property tax revenues to operate. With Dillon’s urban renewal authority, it’s been estimated that the fire district could lose up to $4.7 million over a 25-year period. He added that urban renewal and TIF have caused statewide service-financing issues.
If there’s an increased demand for service and a countywide population growth, Parmley said he’s concerned over whether the fire district would be able to provide for an increased demand – he doesn’t want to do it “on the backs of other taxpayers and other communities” within the Lake Dillon Fire Protection District.
Parmley also said he’d like to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Dillon to ensure that proper funding is provided in the coming years.
“The town has certainly been very cooperative by having productive discussions with us,” he said.
Summit School District seems least concerned about urban renewal out of all the potentially affected entities. Assistant superintendent for business services Karen Strakbein said local schools wouldn’t be impacted at all by urban renewal since its revenues are controlled by the State of Colorado through the Colorado School Finance Act. This could change if current laws are altered, but as of now the district would be fine.
“As we are committed to the well-being of children and families in our community, we look forward to collaborating with the Town of Dillon on possible future projects that would enhance learning and recreational activities for students,” Strakbein said.
According to Martinez, neither the Summit County government or any other entity has a say in whether Dillon used a TIF district or not.
“At the end of the day, it’s the town’s decision,” he said. “The county has no approval authority.”
Martinez said he’d like to participate in a discussion about where the TIF district would be – will it include the entire town, or just the area that receives the benefits? Right now the urban renewal authority spans Dillon’s town limits.
“The town is extremely sensitive to the county’s and the fire department’s concerns,” said Mayor Barbara Davis. “We’ll try to work something out.”
Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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