Initial Look – Detail of Proposed Bonds/New Taxes – You’ve Got Homework, Y’all!

The good news, for me, is that the Hick’s Infrastructure Priorities Task Force has detailed the projects/maintenance that will be presented as a series of bond and tax hike questions on the November ballot, and a few–yes, just a few–of those projects/maintenance items will directly affect Northwest Denver.

The Task Force divided the projects/maintenance items into two major categories: 1) “Projects Recommended Under Current Bonding Capacity,” (current bonding capacity is $480 million which represents three (3) per cent of the actual value as determined by the last final assessment of the taxable property within the City and County of Denver), and 2) “Projects Recommended for Funding with Bonds Supported with New Tax Revenue.” Subcategories under the two category headings provide the specific project/maintenance item proposed. It is unfortunate that several of the subcategories do not detail the specific funds to be allocated to a specific project (e.g. Irrigation Replacement at Parks and Parkways), but, rather simply provide a sum total for the subcategory.

So, without any new taxes–albeit a helluva bond indebtedness–here’s what Northwest Denver may get out of this whole thing (not including projects included under the second category, “Projects Recommended for Funding with Bonds Supported with New Tax Revenues”).

Irrigation Replacement at Parks and Parkways: Highland Park and Berkeley Park. Looks good on paper, but sharing the $16,500,000, identified for this subcategory are 34 parks and parkways AND the implementation of the 6th Avenue Parkway. This subcategory includes the caveat: “Would complete the highest priority projects as identified in the consultant’s 2002 irrigation engineering study plus implement the 6th Avenue parkway, which is currently being designed.” Not sure if that means some of the 34 items may get cut, or if the 34 projects listed constitute the sum-total of projects to be completed. Once again, there is no cost detail for each project listed.

Aqautic Facilities Maintenance/Replacement (portion): Berkeley Outdoor Pool. This subcategory includes eleven projects sharing $3,400,000. No detail on what is in store for the Berkeley pool. Again, no cost detail specific to the project.

New Parks Restrooms: Berkeley Park and Sloan’s Lake Park North. This subcategory includes nine projects sharing a total of $2,808,000. No cost detail specific to each project. Notably absent in this subcategory is Highland Park, which has no restroom structure…just a portapottie. Apparently, permanent restroom facilities at Highland Park were determined to be unnecessary by the Infrastructure Task Force.

Parks Restroom Rehabilitation: Berkeley Park, Sloan’s Lake Park. Twenty-six projects under this subcategory will share $1.638 million. Again, no cost detail specific for each project.

Recreation Center Maintenance: Scheitler Recreation Center, Ashland Recreation Center. Seventeen Recreation Centers will share $3.6 million. The maintenance noted will include: Capital repairs such as HVAC replacements, flooring, roofs, etc. No cost detail specific to each project.

Now, within the category, “Projects Recommended Under Current Bonding Capacity,” there are line items specific to single projects. For Northwest Denver, I note one project: Sloan’s Lake Park Maintenance, which is described as “Rehabilitates/repairs some of the items identified in master plan.” The cost for this item is $6 million. No, items specific to the Berkeley and Highland Park master plans are not included in any of the subcategories. Seems Sloan’s Lake is and has been for some time, the squeaky wheel that the city mamas and papas are happy to grease. Implementation of Master plans for Highland and Berkeley parks still linger.

The Infrastructure Priorities Task Force (IPTF) concludes that all items under the category, “Projects Recommended Under Current Bonding Capacity,” will total $340,205,000. Me feeble mind seems to see a disconnect between what the IPTF proposed and what we now know to be Hickenlooper’s tweaking of the IPTF recommendations. It appears Hickenlooper has shuffled a number of the IPTF recommendations in such a way that the bond ballot questions (under current bonding capacity) will equal $480 million, or $140 million in excess of what the IPTF recommended. The Hick has broken out “Cultural Facilities” improvements as a stand-alone bond question totaling $70 million, which, curiously, takes the bonding total to $550 million, or, curiously, $70 million dollars over the codified bond debt limit noted above.

One does wonder if the cultural facilities question is, for the Hicks, a throwaway question. Voters not wanting to see a property tax increase in excess of the 2.5 mill levy for “ongoing maintenance,” would, if schooled on each of these bond/tax questions, simply say “NO” to the cultural facilities question. Easy out.

It appears that the Hickies have taken some of the IPTF recommendations to be supported by “…New Tax Revenues,” and placed them into the “…Current Bonding Capacity” category. Some of those projects include libraries for West Denver (curiously identified as a “Latino Library”), and libraries at Stapleton and Green Valley Ranch. Wondering also if the Hickies haven’t also moved a fire station at Lowry, and a recreation center for Stapleton into the “…Current Bonding Capacity” category. I believe other projects have been shuffled by the Hickies, as well.

So, if you take a look at the Infrastructure Priorities Task Force recommendations, it is clear those recommendations have been tweaked by the Hickies which, of course, is their prerogative. One does wonder, though, if the members of the IPTF, upon seeing Hick’s machinations, aren’t scratching their heads a bit, wondering what the hell…

Let me end this here. I’ve still got questions, concerns. (A “Latino Library,” for heaven’s sake!). Denver Health imposing upon Denver’s bonding capacity when they have their own ability to issue bonds as an independent authority established by the State. The Denver Animal Shelter lumped in a bond question dealing with child care centers and a new Human Services facility on the eastside. Does this grouping really meet the requisites of the “single subject” rule required by Colorado law?

Yeah, we’ve got homework to do on this stuff. November ain’t that far away, y’all.

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