Election could end dispute between Parker, fire agency

Proposed excise tax on new development will be in voters' hands

Posted 7/22/19

The Parker Authority for Reinvestment, the Town of Parker and other interveners have reached a settlement with South Metro Fire Rescue in a lawsuit filed more than two years ago.

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Election could end dispute between Parker, fire agency

Proposed excise tax on new development will be in voters' hands

Posted
The Parker Authority for Reinvestment, the Town of Parker and other interveners have reached a settlement with South Metro Fire Rescue in a lawsuit filed more than two years ago.
 
Parker voters will decide in November whether to approve an excise tax on new development in the Nov. 5 election, which, if passed, would end a dispute between South Metro and Parker Authority for Reinvestment, the town's urban renewal authority, which now goes by the name Partnering for Parker's Progress (P3). If the measure fails, litigation between the two will continue.
 
If passed, the revenue from the excise tax would go toward offseting costs for all new roads, parks, trails, facilities and infrastructure made necessary by growth, including paying for the services of South Metro. Existing development would not be affected by the tax. The tax would go into effect immediately upon approval if passed.
 
The town currently collects excise tax on new development, but the excise tax ballot initiative would allow the town to increase the amount of excise tax collected on new residential development to address the greater impacts of new residents, according to town officials.
 
Background
 
South Metro filed suit against PAR in June 2017, alleging PAR had diverted funds that should have gone to the fire district — for the agency's services expected to be provided with coming development and growth on three urban renewal plans — to other redevelopment projects. The basis of the lawsuit was South Metro's claim that the PAR had withheld about $322,000 in property tax revenues that should have gone to South Metro, with potentially $16 million at stake over the 20 years. 
 
A Douglas County District Court judge has ruled in favor of PAR and the interveners on this issue, but two other issues needed to be settled: whether one of the programs, the Business in Transition Program, was an authorized urban renewal expense; and a general disagreement over the meaning of the term "urban renewal project" and whether South Metro was entitled to a small portion of a certain type of tax already collected.
 
Parker has been amid a growth spurt. The town's population of 45,337 in 2010 grew to 55,636 as of last summer, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.
 
The settlement
 
Town council and the PAR board approved the respective settlements at their July 15 meetings. 
 
According to the agreement, the town must remit a portion of the excise tax funds to a “public safety component,” namely South Metro Fire Rescue, on a quarterly basis.
 
The payout to South Metro will be adjusted annually utilizing the Colorado Construction Cost Index set by the Colorado Department of Transportation or equivalent index reflecting annual changes in local construction costs. TischlerBise, a consulting firm, was hired by South Metro to determine the maximum amount the town can pay South Metro. By state law, municipalities and fire districts are allowed to cooperate in developing impact fees to address the impact to public safety services caused by new development.
 
The total amount paid by developers per housing unit will significantly increase if the tax passes, and will be as follows, according to the agreement document:
 
• Single-family: $10,178 (from $3,500)
• Attached dwelling: $6,337 (from $2,700)
• Dwelling unit within an apartment building: $5,567 (from $2,400)
The amount of the public safety service component to be paid to South Metro per housing unit, if passed, is as follows:
• Single-family: $583
• Attached dwelling: $376
• Dwelling unit within an apartment building: $338
 
There is currently an excise tax in place that was approved 20 years ago. That tax is no longer sufficient to offset the cost of new development, town officials said.
 
They said it
 
“Moving forward, the town and South Metro have agreed that, should the excise tax ballot initiative be passed by voters in November 2019, the additional tax collected will satisfactorily address the impact of future development in Parker."
 
— Elise Penington, communications director for the Town of Parker, via email
 
"The Town of Parker and South Metro Fire Rescue have had a long history of working cooperatively and collaboratively for the benefit of their citizens and taxpayers – South Metro has been providing fire protection services for many years to the town – and we will continue to work collaboratively moving forward on this settlement agreement to ensure we are working in the best interests of the taxpayers, citizens and the district. As always, South Metro looks forward to continuing to provide the level of services that the residents and businesses in the town have come to enjoy."
— Mike Dell'Orfano, assistant chief of government affairs for South Metro Fire Rescue, via email

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