Loveland's Independent News Source
Loveland, February 8, 2015

This Tuesday marks the end of a month long mail-in special election for a new taxing
authority for downtown Loveland.   If you haven't received a ballot in the mail it is likely
you don't live in or own property in downtown Loveland and therefore are ineligible to
vote.  Nonetheless, the outcome will impact how public resources are spent and whether
the public has an ability to participate let alone influence those decisions.

The newly defined "Loveland downtown" boundary is roughly the areas where Highway
287 splits into two one-way streets beginning at south Lincoln Ave. and ending just north
of Highway 34 .

Of the some 1,300 ballots mailed out, more than 1,000 were outstanding last week showing
an historically low participation in the election.  Confusing many potential voters is the
requirement for properties owned by partnerships, corporations or not-for-profit
organizations to designate a natural person to cast their ballot.  

Interest in the election may also be low because people don't see how it impacts their lives.  
This vote is the first step in a two step process to create a downtown authority that can levy
taxes on property owners.  The vote to approve a property tax increase downtown, in the
way of a mill levy, will not occur until November this year.  The current election will create
a new local government and taxing authority exclusively for areas in and around
Loveland's downtown.

The proposed new taxing district, called the DDA (Downtown Development Authority), is a
critical milestone in a larger city plan being shepherded by former
Detroit area planner
Mike Scholl
to establish a new organization outside the City of Loveland to capture and
spend taxes collected in Loveland's downtown.

The Loveland DDA will collect taxes while deciding which businesses or developers merit
subsidies taken from government tax revenue.  Scholl has long advocated for creating a
separate organization to distance what he describes as "council politics" from the process
of business incentives for downtown.  In other Colorado communities DDA's are often less
responsive to public requests for information and less transparent about their actions than
a city government given the fact the DDA staff is not elected and the city is not directly
controlling the organization.

The facade grants provided to downtown businesses each year by Loveland's City Council
along with other direct financial assistance to downtown businesses will be transferred to
the DDA if the ballot question is approved.  This is because the facade program along with
other redevelopment programs rely on diverted property taxes via the city's fledgling URA
(Urban Renewal Authority) for downtown which will become part of the DDA.

By establishing the DDA, the city will transfer the existing URA diverted property tax
revenue along with an additional mill levy (to be voted on in November) to the new DDA
and reset the clock to continue diverting property taxes collected under the TIF (Tax
Increment Financing) scheme until the year 2040.   

In 2002, Loveland's downtown sales tax collection peaked at $1,280,250.  Prior to 2002,
growth in the city's population also increased sales tax collections for Loveland's
downtown.  This trend reversed by 2003 as the Outlet Mall and other McWhinney retail
developments were increasing their sales.  Between 2002 until 2008, despite adding more
than 20,000 new residents to Loveland, the downtown sales taxes actually declined or
remained static at levels less than inflation.  This spelled trouble for the LURA (Loveland
Urban Renewal Authority) established to collect any increased sales and property taxes
from downtown resulting from its ongoing investments using public debt.

The new DDA, if approved, will work in concert with the recently created LDP (Loveland
Downtown Partnership) which was granted roughly 50% of the $1 million of sales taxes
collections in Loveland's downtown for 2015 and beyond.  Loveland's City Council
approved the sales tax diversion to the private group in a unanimous vote late last year.   
Headed by Harry Devereaux, President of Home State Bank, LDP will decide the funding for
various businesses that apply to the LDP for subsidies.  Council attempted to place a limit
on LDP's ability to hire away city staff but the private directors prevailed in maintaining a
free hand in deciding whom they can hire.  
detailed story on LDP creation
As Centerra began constructing more retail areas following the 2004 "Master Financing
Agreement" with the City of Loveland, advocates from developer McWhinney sold the
community and city staff the narrative that their heavily subsidized developments along
I-25 would only help downtown Loveland.   
read a 2007 LovelandPolitics story of Chad
McWhinney's comments

Nine years later, the City of Loveland is continuing to ramp-up property acquisitions,
business incentives and other financial tools in hopes of exceeding the 2002 sales tax peak
for downtown.  

Current mail-in ballot Question 1, approving the creation of a DDA, is expected to pass as
there has been little to no opposition within the downtown community who are the
qualified electors.  The Loveland Reporter-Herald
published a story regarding two
longtime business owners in opposition.   If passed, as expected, a very small minority of
the downtown business owners and residents will put into motion a new governmental
entity for downtown looking to increase property taxes via another limited area election as
early as November.
Few Votes Cast in DDA Election
           CITY BALLOT LANGUAGE         

City of Loveland February 10, 2015 Special Election
A Special Election to be held on February 10, 2015 to
consider a Referred Ordinance for the Creation of the
Loveland Downtown Development Authority to Exercise All
Powers Authorized in Part 8, Article 25, Title 31, of the
Colorado Revised ordinance creating the
Loveland Downtown Development Authority.

Ballot Question 1: Shall the Loveland Downtown
Development Authority be organized pursuant to Part 8,
Article 25, Title 31, Colorado Revised Statutes to exercise all
powers authorized therein within the boundaries of the area
legally described in Ordinance No. 5906 of the City Council
of the City of Loveland, Colorado, and generally described
as follows:

The proposed DDA is generally bounded by northbound
Lincoln Avenue and Southbound Cleveland Avenue; the
eastern boundary of the proposed DDA goes from the tip of
the southern gateway, following Lincoln Avenue to 3rd Street
SE, east 2 blocks to Washington Avenue, 6 blocks north to
4th Street, east one block to Adams Avenue, north to 5th
Street, and then back west to Washington Avenue; then from
the intersection of 5th Street and Washington Avenue, north
one block and west one block to Jefferson Avenue, north 1
1/2 blocks and west another 1/2 block, then continuing
northward, including the properties that front on Lincoln
Avenue, toward Eisenhower Boulevard, to 1/2 block south of
Eisenhower Boulevard,to 1/2 block south of Eisenhower
Boulevard,north to the alley o past 16th Street, west 190 feet,
north to the boundary with Lakeside Cemetery, west to
Lincoln Avenue, north to the end of the one way system, and
from the tip of the northern gateway, the western boundary
includes the properties on the west side of Cleveland
Avenue south to 11th Street, then west to just past the
railroad tracks, south on Railroad Avenue for one block, and
again west on 10th Street SW to the intersection of Garfield
Avenue and Railroad Avenue, then following the irrigation
ditch southeast back to Cleveland Avenue and then south to
the end of the one way system.  


"Qualified Elector" Voter Information
For purposes of this DDA Election, a Qualified Elector is
defined as follows:
Resident, Landowner, or Lessee. These terms are further
defined in 31-25-802 ((6),(6.2) and (10) C.R.S.  
(Replacement Ballot Application)

Residents must be over the age of 18 and a citizen of the
United States of America.

Landowners or Lessees which are not a natural person may
vote only if it designates a representative to cast its ballot,
that is a natural person, who is over the age of 18 and is a
citizen of the United States of America. (Designation of a
Natural Person form)