Loveland's Independent News Source

Loveland - January 31, 2014

Former State Senator Steve Johnson, who currently serves on the Larimer County
Board of Commissioners, is furious with Loveland's representative to the State
Legislature Brian Delgrosso.

DelGrosso, a Republican who was elected House Minority Leader last year, turned
down an overture earlier this week by Democrat Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, State House
Majority Leader, to put politics aside and support a bi-partisan effort to limit the abuse
of Urban Renewal Authorities by special interests competing for property tax revenue
against local services.

Historically, urban renewal reform has been supported locally and statewide by both
political liberals and conservatives, (
see LovelandPolitics blog from 2008 about local
opposition to McWhinney's flex URA)

Johnson, along with Colorado Counties Inc. has been working quietly to propose
legislation to end abuses of Colorado's Urban Renewal laws where powerful developers
like McWhinney profit from TIF (Tax Increment Financing) by diverting funds away from
counties and special districts.  Counties fund district attorneys, local jails, public health
and social services.  Special districts fund emergency services like the Thompson
Valley EMS, fire districts, and other critical local governing entities.

The abuse occurs when city councils create urban renewal authorities even in areas
where there is little to no blight.  By getting city councils, whose revenue is more
dependent on sales tax instead of property tax, to give away the county, school's and
local district future property taxes for 25 years developers can finance a large
percentage of the development costs using public monies instead of their own.

Hullinghorst sought political cover from Republicans since a bipartisan action would
prevent certain special interests from playing one party against the other in the
debate.  Political Entrepreneurs like McWhinney and Loveland Commercial have
strategically funded both Democrat and Republican candidates who are willing to
defend the status quo despite calls from both the political left and right for reforms.

The problem exists in every larger new development obtaining urban renewal public
debt financing regardless of the project's location or remedy of urban blight.  County
officials point to their inability to have a voice in the process as only a city council can
create a new urban renewal district when the greatest impact financially is on counties,
schools and special districts that rely on the diverted property taxes to fund their

The legislation both parties were working to introduce would limit municipalities to
granting only 50% of future property taxes to developers unless the other impacted
local governments agree.  Most other states have prohibitions on "cross jurisdictional
taxation" where one entity can determine the taxing authority of another.  If passed, the
legislation would help protect organizations like Foothills Gateway who provide services
to the developmentally disabled through a voter approved mill levy.

Johnson and other county leaders believe cities like Loveland are in violation of TABOR
(Taxpayer's Bill of Rights) by changing taxing authorities without a vote.  

DelGrosso, whose father is a lobbyist in Denver, is reported to be lying low and
avoiding questions on the topic.  There is speculation his attempts to dodge this issue  
in fear of the consequences with certain donors could cost him the leadership position
he holds in the legislature.

Republicans Battle Over
Crony Capitalism
         Commissioner Johnson's
  Private Email To Rep. DelGrosso

From: Steve Johnson <>
Date: Saturday, January 25, 2014
Subject: Private... Brian your community needs you
To: ""


In the twelve years I served in the legislature I can
probably count on one hand the number of times I
really had the chance to make a difference.  Those
are my best memories.

I also remember times I didn't when I had the
chance.  Those are the only times I regret.
You have a chance to stand up for what's right and
what's needed by your local community and to
make a difference.

I know your responsibilities to the caucus...I was
there, I was assistant minority leader in the Senate
when we were down 17-18.  I know the pressures of
the lobby.  I knew Micki and Bob Moody when they
lobbied for NAIOP.  They are forceful and they are
doing a job for their constituents and they do it well
as they should.  You are doing a job for your
constituents (who are different) and we need you to
do it well and you should.

Guess what?  NAIOP isn't going anywhere.  Their
big enemy isn't the counties, its the Trial Lawyers
and they are wedded to the Democrat Party.  They
aren't going to abandon supporting you all...they

I only voted with them part of the time and they
always supported me.  In fact, I have a team signed
jersey from the Nashville Predators and team
gloves with my name on them from Bob! (Before
Amend 41...his son was the team equipment
manager and we always talked about hockey).
We have a reasonable bill reforming TIF and we
need you to be the House sponsor.  

You said you had concerns about we're
giving you the bill.  You can make some changes if
you need to (just don't make it meaningless)...its
your bill and we understand that.  TIF needs
reform....its unsustainable in its current form.  The
tool will be lost if it isn't reformed.  If not now, when?
We need you Brian...this is your time to stand up.  
Don't let it pass and regret it like the few times I
made that mistake.  You're in office for a reason, so
was I.  Don't forget why you're there.
Thank you for listening and I hope you'll think about
what I learned from my years.

Steve Johnson
Larimer County Commissioner Dist. 2

                  Republican State Senator
                      Stands With Johnson

From: "Vicki Marble" <>
Date: Jan 21, 2014 10:19 PM
Subject: Re: TIF King Soopers puts Albertsons out of
business in Fort Collins
To: "Steve Johnson" <>

Thank you so very much, Steve. I appreciate you
keeping me updated on TIF. I am not a fan... as we
discussed over lunch. Please, continue to keep me

Thank you again, I really appreciate your email.


On Tuesday, January 21, 2014 10:03 PM, Steve
Johnson <> wrote:

Picking winners and losers in the free market with your
tax dollars.....TIF funded King Soopers puts Albertsons
across the street out of business in the Fort Collins
North College URA.

Steve Johnson
Larimer County Commissioner Dist. 2
follow me on Facebook at:!/pages/Steve-Johnson-Larimer-County-Commissioner/338760390694
Larimer County Information:
51st State House Representative
Brian DelGrosso