Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Aurora Citizens Group Fights Back Against Gaylord Give-away


Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government

Aurora City Council - Gaming the System 

August 2, 2011 

(Aurora) - Gaming the system - or as it is known in Aurora - Incentive Agreement By and Among
  • The City of Aurora Colorado
  • Aurora Urban Renewal Authority
  • And Gaylord Entertainment Company
Having had an opportunity to analyze the 130 page "incentive" agreement between the city and Gaylord, along with the 40 page Urban Renewal "blight" document, Citizens For Responsible Aurora Government (CRAG) recently made the following presentation before Aurora City Council. 

Highlights of the presentation included:
  • How the city is abusing the Urban Renewal "blighting" law
  • Circumventing the Colorado Constitution on donation of public funds
  • Potentially obligating Aurora taxpayers to debt, without a vote of the people
  • Generating a whole new slew of taxes and taxing areas
Aurora is again attempting to blight raw, undeveloped, agricultural land. After a similar tactic was used by Aurora in 2010, blighting agricultural land for the Lend Lease project, state senator Morgan Carroll sponsored a bill to prohibit this type of abuse of the "blighting" laws. The only problem was that there were several loopholes. The City of Aurora is using one of these loopholes to foster a massive tax giveaway ($300 million) to "incent" Gaylord to locate a hotel and convention center in the City of Aurora. 

The particular loophole that the city is using is noted in the state statutes as "No area that has been designated as an urban renewal area shall contain any agricultural land unless each public body that levies an ad valorem property tax on such land agrees in writing to its inclusion within the urban renewal area." Who are these government "bodies?"
  • City of Aurora
  • Adams County
  • Brighton School District
  • Urban Drainage and Flood Control
  • Urban Drainage South Platte
  • Rangeview Library District
  • A new General Improvement District (GID)
Have these entities been contacted? Have they made any decision? 

On page 52 and 53 of the incentive agreement, you will find a detailed breakout of the tax giveaways that are part of this proposal. Obtaining a "blight" designation will allow the developer to receive a "Tax Increment Financing" designation. This in turn will allow for the avalanche of tax subsidies. All details are in the incentive agreement. Also, the Aurora City Council is providing a "Moral Obligation Pledge" to secure potential bonds of over $200 million dollars that would be issued by the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority. This was done without a vote of the Aurora taxpayers on this potential debt obligation. 

Other taxes noted include "lodger taxes" of 12.6% per day, all going to the developer and new "admission" taxes, again all noted on pages 52 & 53 of the incentive document. 

In addition, property owners will be voting on a new General Improvement District and "Enhanced Taxing Area?" You can view a map of the area here.
Map of GID 

CRAG encourages development in the City of Aurora - for projects that can be built on their own merits--and not a giant taxpayer subsidy. We urge the affected government "bodies" in this development area to reject this tax giveaway of 25-33 years and send a message to the Aurora City Council that this is no way to do business. 

For more information you can contact CRAG at info@cragaurora.com
-             720.295.8402       - cragaurora.com 


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