Windsor DDA looks to spring election for funding

WINDSOR – At the 1-year-old Windsor Downtown Development Authority, all eyes are on April 3.

After a year spent planning and strategizing, the DDA and the member businesses within its boundaries will be anxiously waiting the outcome of a municipal election on that date that will determine whether they get access to the funds they need to begin creating visible change in Windsor’s downtown.

Voters will be casting their ballots on a measure that, if passed, would allow tax increment financing collected by a district to be spent by the DDA. The area within the DDA boundaries spins off more than $9,000 in TIF dollars a year.

TIF dollars are generated by taxes collected from enhanced property values. When a TIF district is established, all governmental entities continue to receive the same level of tax revenues they had always collected. But all increases in tax revenue are “captured” by the district to help pay for improvements, typically for a period of 30 years.

A mill levy increase also will be on the ballot this spring, and, if passed, would allow the DDA to collect up to 5 mills.

The odds of passage may be better than, say, a statewide tax increase measure given that only members of the DDA vote on ballot items pertaining to the DDA. DDA members are all those living or doing business within the DDA boundaries.

The Town of Windsor also has a stake in the outcome of the ballot items relating to the DDA.

As part of an inter-governmental agreement, the town board has pledged to give back to the DDA the sales tax revenue it generates for its first five years of existence, amounting to approximately $250,000 per year. These funds will be used to bankroll the DDA while it gets off the ground, according to Windsor Associate Planner Elizabeth Fields.

If voters reject the DDA measure, Fields said, the town will have the right to renegotiate its financial involvement in the DDA.

In the year since the DDA was created, progress has been mostly on the administrative front, said Windsor Town Manager Kelly Arnold.

The board of directors for the authority, which consists of seven downtown business owners, has been busy hammering not only the inter-governmental agreement with the Town of Windsor, but also a strategic plan in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

The DDA’s 2012 game plan includes a variety of goals, beginning with the development of a website, which is expected to be live in the first quarter. Other goals include the creation and implementation of a marketing plan and the formation of partnerships with other local entities.

While all of these goals will help, those within the DDA boundaries are most anxious to see visible improvements in 2012, according to Fields.

“The downtown group wants to see something happen,” Fields said. “They’re ready for something visible.”

There are several beautification projects listed on the DDA’s plan for 2012, including the installation of additional benches along sidewalks, planting trees and developing a façade renovation program.

Brent Phinney, who serves as a DDA board member and also owns Windsor Eye Care Center, located at 515 Main St., echoed Fields’ comment.

“Improving the aesthetic of any downtown will bring people to the area and keep them there,” Phinney said. “We’ve spent a lot of time planning, so now we need to get our hands dirty and make visible change.”

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