Government & Politics  October 10, 2023

Larimer County will join in Centerra South financial plan

FORT COLLINS — Larimer County will join in the tax-increment financing arrangement with the Loveland Urban Renewal Authority regarding the Centerra South development.

After lengthy public comment and deliberations among members of the Larimer County Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning, the board voted 2-1 to approve an intergovernmental agreement to modify the financial arrangement for the URA and commit 65% of its incremental property tax revenue at Centerra South for use in building public infrastructure in the development.

Multiple members of the public speaking at the commissioners’ meeting this morning asked the board to delay a decision until after the Nov. 7 municipal elections when residents of Loveland will vote on whether to require voter approval for new or substantially modified URA plans. Others thanked the county for rejoining negotiations over the financial plan and asked the commissioners to continue its cooperation by approving the intergovernmental agreement.

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Larimer County Attorney Bill Ressue noted in his remarks to the board that if the county chose to wait until after Nov. 7, then an affirmative vote in Loveland on changes to URA law would result in the city needing to seek voter approval for the changes to the Centerra South financial arrangement.

But the commissioners decided not to play the delay card. While acknowledging that they think that a change in how the process works would be beneficial overall, they did not want to depend upon the uncertainty of an election to determine how they should vote now.

Commissioner Kristin Stephens said that rhetoric over Centerra South has gotten out of hand and “I don’t like the veiled threats” directed at the commissioners. “Municipal and county partners shouldn’t act that way,” she said.

She supported the IGA on Tuesday because “going to a mediator leaves things up to chance, as does a vote in Loveland.” The county under state law is required to negotiate in good faith over terms of the URA financial arrangement; choosing not to do so would result in a required mediation that would take the actual amounts of the county participation out of the commissioners’ hands.

“Let’s get this behind us,” she said.

Similarly, Commissioner John Kefalas said he would support the IGA, despite what he called a flawed process. 

“Loveland is an important partner and we need to mend fences,” he said. He also said he hopes the vote Nov. 7 improves the process for how URA tools are used in the future.

Commissioner Jody Shadduck-McNally cast her vote against the IGA, saying that she had to choose between her head and her heart and decided to vote with her heart on this one.

“This decision is very stressful for me. I wanted Larimer County to be a partner and not a legislative check box,” she said. “My concern is not the project or the people behind it but about use of the URA tool.”

She said she resented that state law forces the county to participate in some fashion. “We’re not willing partners,” she said.

The county’s vote this morning means that the Loveland Urban Renewal Authority is clear to move ahead with a vote Tuesday night on the major modification to the URA plan, which then will return to the Loveland City Council Oct. 17 for a second and final vote on the revised plan.

Ken Amundson
Ken Amundson is managing editor of BizWest. He has lived in Loveland and reported on issues in the region since 1987. Prior to Colorado, he reported and edited for news organizations in Minnesota and Iowa. He's a parent of two and grandparent of four, all of whom make their homes on the Front Range. A news junkie at heart, he also enjoys competitive sports, especially the Rapids.
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