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ARCHIVED  November 1, 1997

Weld braces for change in tax zone

WELD COUNTY — Last May, the state Economic Development Commission took a new look at the economic enterprise zones and the proposals submitted by the counties to see if the enterprise zones still qualified for the state-mandated distress criteria of higher unemployment and lower per capita income than the state average.
The Greeley/Weld Economic Development Action Partnership, EDAP, administrators of the Greeley/Weld Urban Enterprise Zone, submitted its proposal to the state commission and revised some of its own boundaries based on the state˜s mandated distress criteria.
"In 1996 we put in an application based on the state˜s criteria, and we knew some of our areas would no longer meet the distress criteria,˜˜ said Cathy Schulte, vice president of EDAP. "Del Camino is an area in the Greeley/Weld Urban Enterprise Zone, but we did not include the Del Camino area in our application because we knew it did not meet the distress criteria.˜˜
Some of the areas in the enterprise zones could no longer be considered depressed economically and in fact were in literally booming, such as Del Camino. Most counties knew that the boundaries for all the enterprise zones would change.
"We came out of the program reasonably intact,˜˜ said Schulte. "We did lose some areas, but virtually every zone did, and we could have lost a lot more.˜˜
The new boundaries will go into effect in July 1998, so companies currently located within the EZ boundaries will be able to continue earning state income-tax credits for the next nine months. Any credits earned prior to this date can be carried forward and applied to future tax liability as outlined in the legislation.
The communities or portions of which have received state approval and will be included in the updated EZ boundaries in 1998 are: Ault, Fort Lupton, Gilcrest, Hudson, Johnstown, Keenesburg, Kersey, LaSalle, Milliken, Nunn, Platteville, Frederick, Firestone, Erie, Mead and primarily north/central and eastern Greeley. The land north of 0 Street and west of 35th Ave. in Greeley will be taken out of the zone boundaries.
Towns that will not be included in the updated zone boundaries because they no longer qualify, or chose not to participate, include: Eaton, Dacono, Del Camino, Pierce, Severance, Lochbuie, Grover and New Raymer.
These towns currently in the EZ will lose this designation on July 1, 1998.
Some towns such as Erie lost only portions of their EZ designation and retained other parts of the zone, which might seem like a paradox.
"The data used to determine whether the areas are distressed or not was based on the 1990 census data, so it is not all current information,˜˜ said Don Warden, director of finance and administration for Weld County. "In the areas around Frederick, Firestone and Erie, the mayors and other people lobbied and wrote letters to keep those areas in the zone, and they were successful, and they also still qualified. In one area around western Greeley, they lobbied hard to keep in the zone, but they were unsuccessful.˜˜
The purpose of the zones is to create jobs in the distressed areas so that people living in the area will have places to work.
"Some areas qualified because people lived in a distressed area even if the area they were working in did not actually qualify,˜˜ said Warden. "Some areas in the zone are adjacent to areas not included in the zone. And some areas did not meet the qualifications because they were expanding, but the people taking the jobs in those areas were in distressed areas so they qualified.˜˜
This is only the second time the zones have been evaluated since they were created about five years ago. Warden said this evaluation should last until the next census.
"The main purpose of the zones is job creation and retention,˜˜ he said. "Most of the expansion for job creation was outside the cities. I have worked with many companies that moved to Weld County, and the zone was a nice touch, but the companies moved there because they were on a fast track and needed to move fast, and they wanted to relocate to an unincorporated area and pay less taxes.˜˜
Some people feel that losing Del Camino as an enterprise zone could slow growth in that area, and others say that the area is growing so strongly now that losing the zone status will have little impact.
"I don˜t think that it (losing the enterprise zone status) will deter businesses from coming to that area,˜˜ said Kerri Keithley, a planner with Weld County. "We are seeing so many new businesses coming into that area now. They are attracting a lot of businesses, so we have incorporated a new mixed-use development plan for that area. It is unique — we don˜t have anything else even remotely comparable to that area. We just received a planned unit development for 1,600 homes with a school site and a satellite fire protection station in the Del Camino area. We get a lot of proposals.˜˜
But others think losing the Del Camino zone could change development in that area.
"I think changing the boundaries will affect land prices in that area,˜˜ said Larry Green, president of Larry Green & Associates in Longmont. "The reason why land prices are so competitive in that area is because of the zone. I think land prices in and around the zone (Del Camino) will drop some and businesses moving into that area will slow down some – over time the growth will be slower.˜˜
Green has developed land for sale in the Del Camino area.
"We are selling finished lots just North of Highway 66 in the mixed-use district of Weld County,˜˜ he said. Lots in that area run from $1.25 to $2 per square foot for industrial lots ready to build on with roads, water and sewer available.
"Lots in Longmont go for over $2 per square foot for industrial land,˜˜ said Green.
The enterprise zones served a good purpose, he added. But some areas have served that purpose, and now they are no longer distressed areas, so it is only right that they should be taken out of the enterprise-zone designation, he said.
Marvin Dyer, at Dyer Realty in Longmont said, "I think that land prices will stay the same in the Del Camino area. Businesses will move there whether the enterprise zone exists on not, because there are many factors involved when a business decides to relocate.˜˜

WELD COUNTY — Last May, the state Economic Development Commission took a new look at the economic enterprise zones and the proposals submitted by the counties to see if the enterprise zones still qualified for the state-mandated distress criteria of higher unemployment and lower per capita income than the state average.
The Greeley/Weld Economic Development Action Partnership, EDAP, administrators of the Greeley/Weld Urban Enterprise Zone, submitted its proposal to the state commission and revised some of its own boundaries based on the state˜s mandated distress criteria.
"In 1996 we put in an application based on the state˜s criteria, and we…

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