February 24, 2018

Jacob’s Golden Update: Sales and Use Tax Update

Jacob’s Golden Update: July 13, 2009

1. Some Tough Choices Ahead: Sales and Use Tax Update
2. Courts Reject Councilor Weaver’s Lawsuit Against Golden (Again)
3. The New Beltway Proposal: Still a Really Bad Deal
4. Golden Vision 2030 Block Parties Coming Up:  Heritage Road West, Heritage Road East, and Golden Hills/Golden Heights Neighborhoods
5. Golden’s Community Garden Cuts Ribbon and Makes the Denver Post
6. The Junior Arch
7. Emergency Road Repair At Heritage Road and Colfax Under Way
8. Meet Our New State Representative (Representative Max Tyler)
9. Leadership Golden Applications Due 8/1/09
10. The Colorado Municipal League Conference
11. Blog Roundup
12. Other Upcoming Events
13. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, July 16

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My condolences to Charlene Pazar, the Pazar family, and everyone in Golden that knew Bill Pazar.  He passed away late last week.

1. Some Tough Choices Ahead: Sales and Use Tax Update

Although the City of Golden has a range of revenue sources, as with most other municipalities in Colorado our sales and use tax revenues are particularly important.  These revenues fund our police and fire departments, our city services like water, wastewater, street repair, and snowplowing, and community amenities like parks and trails maintenance, the Community Center, and community events.  Thanks to Golden’s voters, we also have a 1% sales and use tax dedicated to capital improvements such as adding sidewalks and bike lanes, building trails, and new parks and park improvements.  When sales and use tax revenues drop, our ability to fund all of these things diminishes as well.  Golden had been relatively buffered from the impacts of the recession last year but this year we’ve started to see some sales and use tax declines.  The good news is that we planned well for just such a scenario, including building a strong operating reserve fund to ease the transition to a slower economy without abrupt and drastic cuts.  We have made great investments in our quality of life – parks, trails, historic downtown, the Clear Creek Corridor – which have helped us protect our property values.  We have maintained very high bond ratings and a very conservative debt policy, only borrowing for projects when it saves the community money.  And we have vigorously maintained our water system, wastewater system, streets, sidewalks and other community assets.

First quarter revenues dropped about 10%, which isn’t surprising but unfortunate nonetheless.  We just finalized our May numbers (which are reported in June).  Here we saw a decline in sales tax revenues of only about 6%, which might not mean anything but could be reflective of the beginning of the recovery.  I’ll keep you posted as we get numbers through the rest of the year.  In the meantime, we’ll need to consider some tough decisions when we tackle the budget this summer.  We will continue to look hard for new efficiencies in the way we run the city government, but even as we become more efficient, less revenue will mean fewer city staff, and fewer city staff will mean fewer services.  We will need your input as we make these difficult decisions in the 2010 budget process and beyond.

Finally, please note that the City Council is stepping up its discussion of the 2010 budget starting this Thursday night.  Given declining revenues and the need to either reduce services, generate new sources of revenue, or both, this is a very important community conversation.  We’ll begin with my letter to City Council (it’s a pdf file) with my thoughts on this year’s official “City Council Budget Letter” to the city manager spelling out our budget priorities for 2010.

2. Courts Reject Councilor Weaver’s Lawsuit Against Golden (Again)

Some good news in Councilor Mary Weaver and Marian Olson’s ongoing attacks on the City of Golden: the courts once again rejected Councilor Weaver’s lawsuit against the city.  The city settled the original lawsuit by agreeing to review its executive session procedures.  We did that and made a few changes, but Councilor Weaver and Marian Olson (who funded the lawsuit) tried to persuade the court to vacate the settlement.  The court believed that the settlement was fair and that the city had followed through with its obligations, however, and rejected their effort.  Councilor Weaver then asked the appellate court to review, and they concluded – in no uncertain terms – that the city had taken all the appropriate steps and followed through on all of its obligations.  They, too, rejected Councilor Weaver and Marian Olson’s effort.  Councilor Weaver and Marian Olson could appeal one last time to the State Supreme Court.

3. The New Beltway Proposal: Still a Really Bad Deal

The beltway proponents – Arvada, Jefferson County, and Broomfield – have a new toll highway proposal.  They’ve had a very difficult time attracting real interest from potential investors, so they’ve come up with a very scaled-down approach that they believe to be more financially plausible.

This new version of their toll highway proposal has most of the problems of their previous idea and then some.  It won’t help congestion in Arvada or anywhere else.  It won’t help improve travel times or safety on Highway 93.  In fact, because it both adds traffic and a new traffic light on Highway 93, it will make both of those problems worse.  It will facilitate a Denver Tech Center-style development on the boundary of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, severely impacting the wildlife refuge, all of the open space north of Golden, and the Front Range Backdrop (the incredible views of the foothills) all over Denver.  It will make it more difficult for wildlife to move to and from the wildlife refuge.  It will probably involve congestion guarantees (typically required by the investors) that will force Arvada to keep its own roads so congested that its residents are forced to drive out of direction to take the toll highway.  It will increase the number of miles driven, the amount of gasoline consumed, and greenhouse gas emissions.  It will probably contribute to our growing ozone pollution problems.  It is resulting in the continued waste of taxpayer dollars, now another $100,000 from Jefferson County and each of the other two jurisdictions . . . money that is making the consultants rich but doing nothing to help Jefferson County taxpayers actually solve safety and congestion problems.  And on and on.

Golden continues to push back, promoting sensible improvements on Highways 6 and 93 and other key roads to make sure everyone can travel where they need to go, reduce congestion, improve safety, and avoid selling out the public interest to foreign corporations.  We recently sent a letter to potential investors explaining just how bad the travel and revenue numbers look on the proposed new toll road, since they don’t seem to be getting accurate information from the beltway proponents.  You can see this letter and supporting material at a new web site called ReallyBadDeal.org.

There has also been quite a bit of press lately.  Check out the Denver Post’s article on the need for an environmental impact study on the new toll road proposal, and several stories in the Golden Transcript.  They aren’t all entirely accurate (for example, the proponents’ claims that the toll road will double jobs is pretty ridiculous) but they are all important:
“Authority seeking green light”
“Beltway projected to double jobs”
“Beltway extensions linked to housing development”
What can you do?  Call or email your county commissioners (you can find contact info for all three County Commissioners on the Jefferson County web site) and express to them your objection to their spending another $100,000 of your money to try building a road that will add a new traffic light and new traffic on Highway 93, and instead ask them to support Golden in its effort to fix the actual problems on Highways 6 and 93 with appropriate road improvements.

4. Golden Vision 2030 Block Parties Coming Up:  Heritage Road West, Heritage Road East, and Golden Hills/Golden Heights Neighborhoods

What makes your neighborhood special?  Why do you call Golden home?  What do you want Golden to be like in ten or twenty years?

Over the next year the City Council will be making critical decisions that will shape Golden’s future for the next twenty years, and these Golden Vision 2030 Block Parties are a really important opportunity to shape those decisions.  We’ve had five Block Parties so far this summer and they’ve all been terrific successes.  We’ve got three left, and if you live in one of these neighborhoods or just haven’t had a chance to attend any of them so far please join us!  They all involve food, kid- and family-friendly activities, and opportunities to learn more and share your own stories about Golden and what Golden means to you.
July 18 – Heritage Road West Neighborhoods (Heritage Dells/Eagle Ridge)
August 8 – Heritage Road East Neighborhoods (Golden Ridge/Golden Terrace)
August 22 – Golden Hills and Golden Heights
If you’ve got any questions you can visit the Golden Vision 2030 web site or call Nancy in the Planning Department (303-384-8097).

5. Golden’s Community Garden Cuts Ribbon and Makes the Denver Post

Several Sundays ago we celebrated the Golden Community Garden’s grand opening and official ribbon cutting.  The garden now has nearly sixty plots and in the ballpark of 150 people gardening, a pretty amazing accomplishment given that the group only started putting the pieces together in February and that the garden wasn’t even ready to plant until late May.  The grand opening attracted the attention of the Denver Post, Channel 9 news, and a bunch of community folks excited to be a part of the garden and share in the great things happening there.

6. The Junior Arch

The Golden Urban Renewal Authority has been working hard to make sure that folks visiting Coors realize the terrific options they have for shopping and eating after they’ve finished the brewery tour.  The so-called “Junior Arch” on 13th (at Ford) is part of that effort.  Unfortunately, sometimes the architectural renderings don’t always line up to the reality on the ground, so the view of the arch ended up being a bit blocked by the traffic light.  GURA has been carefully evaluating a range of options, and it looks like the first step will be eliminating the left turn signal in front of the arch (which turns out not to be needed) and shortening the height of the traffic light arm.  If that isn’t sufficient, they will then consider some additional options such as raising the height of the arch.  These additional options are pretty pricey, though, so they want to take one step at a time and spend no more than they need to.  Although it isn’t possible to design the arch so that it’s visible from everywhere – the view will be obstructed from somewhere no matter how they configure it – they do want to make it as visible as possible to people in the Coors parking lot and especially at the Coors tour bus stop.  And, in case you are concerned about the cost, the funding all came from GURA’s own budget and even with the adjustments it looks like they will still be under budget.

7. Emergency Road Repair At Heritage Road and Colfax Under Way

The emergency culvert replacement on Heritage Road began about a week ago.  The project is a partnership between the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, Jefferson County, and the City of Golden to replace a culvert at the intersection of Heritage Road and Colfax Avenue (U.S. 40).  The pipe underneath the road deteriorated to a point where it separated from the culvert, causing a sizable sinkhole and making the culvert entirely nonfunctional.  The project will be a bit of a hassle but we’ll get it repaired and add a pedestrian and bicycle underpass as well, creating a long-planned connection across Heritage Road from Apex Park.  The road will be entirely closed at the intersection during the construction project.

Northbound traffic will need to travel up to U.S. 6 and turn left to get to Heritage Road, while southbound traffic on Heritage Road will be detoured through the Heritage Square parking lot to Colfax Ave.  The northbound left turn lane on Colfax to Heritage Road will be closed.  Zeta Street and West 4th Avenue may experience an increase in traffic during the closure, so please if you travel on those roads be respectful of the neighborhoods you are driving through.  In addition to the detours, there may be additional delays as well.  Your best bet is to avoid the area altogether for the two months or so of the project.  We did consider keeping a lane of traffic open to reduce the impact of the detours, but doing so nearly doubled the cost of the project (it would have added $140,000 to what is now a $200,000 project).  The city’s share of the project, incidentally, is only $50k because of the partnership with Urban Drainage and the county.

Incidentally, the police are ticketing people who make the illegal left turn onto Zeta from eastbound Colfax.  It was illegal before and it still is.

8. Meet Our New State Representative (Representative Max Tyler)

Max Tyler is Golden’s new state representative, succeeding Gwyn Green when she resigned at the end of this most recent legislative session.  Representative Tyler will be joining City Council at the beginning of our study session this Thursday to introduce himself, tell us about his legislative agenda, and give us a chance to ask him questions as well.  It’s the first item on the agenda, so start watching on Comcast or the web at 7pm or watch the rebroadcast or video stream later at your convenience.

9. Leadership Golden Applications Due 8/1/09

If you’ve wanted a straightforward way to learn about Golden’s city government and about the community, Leadership Golden is a terrific option.  The course runs from August until May and covers the history of Golden, city government, growth and development issues, Golden’s arts community, and more.  Nearly everyone I know that’s gone through the program has had very favorable things to say.  You can learn more and download the application on the Leadership Golden web site.

10. The Colorado Municipal League Conference

Three of us on the City Council attended the conference this year.  These conferences are an important learning opportunity for city councilors: a chance to hear about best practices in other communities, to learn how other cities are tackling similar challenges, and build relationships with city councilors in other Colorado cities.  As usual, we all worked hard and got a lot out of the event.  I posted a full report on my blog (“A Report on the Colorado Municipal League Conference”), which also has links to reports by both of the other Golden councilors who attended.

11. Blog Roundup

Recent posts on my blog:

  • Saving Taxpayer Dollars With Smart Technology
  • Happy Birthday to the Colorado Railroad Museum
  • Heritage Square Hosts World Record Mini-Golf Game
  • Golden’s First Female City Councilor
  • A Report on the Colorado Municipal League Conference
  • Golden Throws Some Parties: 150 Golden Years and 4th of July

12. Other Upcoming Events

  • Heritage Road West Neighborhoods (Heritage Dells/Eagle Ridge) Golden Vision 2030 Block Party, July 18.  This block party is scheduled from 11 am to 2 pm where the Kinney Run Trail crosses Kimball St. (just look for the white tents).  We’ve got lunch on the grill, giveaways, free bike tune-ups, a vet to visit with your dog, and kid-friendly activities.  It also a really important opportunity to share your thoughts about Golden and your hopes and desires for Golden’s future.  It’s also a great chance to see friends, meet neighbors you don’t know, and learn about city services and activities.  You’ll find more details on the Golden Vision 2030 webpage.
  • Heritage Road East Neighborhoods (Golden Ridge/Golden Terrace) Golden Vision 2030 Block Party, August 8.  This block party is scheduled from 11 am to 2 pm.
  • Buffalo Bill Days, July 24-26.  Great fun for the entire family, including the Pancake Breakfast on Saturday morning at Fire Station #1 (911 10th St.) followed by the Buffalo Bill Days Parade.
  • Police Citizens Academy deadline, August 1.  More info on the city’s web site.
  • First Friday, August 7.  Many of the downtown shops, stores, and restaurants stay open late, often with treats and specials.  You’ll also find entertainment and free horse drawn carriage rides (weather permitting).

13. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, July 16

Our next city council meeting is a regular business meeting on June 11 (this Thursday).  You can download that and review minutes and videos of previous City Council meetings on the city’s web site.  The agenda includes the following issues:

  • A visit from our new State Representative, Max Tyler.
  • Our first discussion of the formal City Council Budget Letter to the city manager spelling out our priorities for the upcoming 2010 budget.
  • An update on the new noise berms along Highways 6 and 93.
  • A discussion of trash hauling and recycling options.  This discussion follows up on extensive community input and on a Request for Proposal to trash haulers.  We will review a range of options for residential trash hauling and recycling service (but we will not be considering larger multi-family residential or commercial).
  • A briefing on a potential open space acquisition (Bachman property) and a proposal for a small special improvement district to help fund it.
  • A Golden Urban Renewal Authority update.
  • A discussion about potential changes in the rules pertaining to temporary storage containers in residential neighborhoods.

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Jacob Smith, Mayor
jsmith@cityofgolden.net
(303) 810-6017
www.SmithforGolden.org