Debt authorization vote scheduled

John Scarffe, Nederland.  The Nederland Downtown Development Authority Board met to discuss the timeline for activities leading up to a November 7 vote to approve a $2.3 million debt authorization during the Board’s regular meeting on Wednesday, August 16, 2017, at the Nederland Community Center. The discussion was needed because on August 15, the Nederland Board of Trustees approved an election called by the Nederland Downtown Development Authority.

 

The election refers to the voters of the Nederland Downtown Development Authority a question to authorize debt in support of projects and programs in the downtown district. The NDDA Board approved the question at its July 27, 2017, meeting.

 

The associated financial scenario approved by the NDDA includes a request for about $2.3 million in project funding, with an overall 20-year repayment of $3.7 million, conservatively anticipated, according to the background memo to the Board.

 

All of the projects on these lists are in line with the NDDA’s Plan of Development, a document that governs all expenditures within the district, and further described in its Master Plan, as well as identified priorities of the NDDA and the Board of Trustees. Once voters approve the debt authorization, the NDDA will still need approval from the Board of Trustees for each loan it seeks for each project or refinancing.

 

Many of the projects from the last debt authorization in 2012 were funded by inter-fund loans from water fund reserves, which have all been repaid so far.

 

The last remaining loan, which totaled $340,000, will be paid off before the end of 2017 and was for the completion of the NedPeds multi-modal pathway and storm water project, completed at the beginning of this summer.

 

Since the NDDA’s 2005 inception, it has funded the initial sidewalk program throughout downtown, the update of the DDA Master Plan, design and pending construction of the new pathways and storm water program at 2nd Street/Highway 72, the holiday lighting program, downtown flowers for the summer season and other smaller initiatives.

 

The DDA has a 30-year life, with the ability to extend that time frame briefly by vote. That means the Nederland DDA expires in 2035, unless extended.
The ballot question will be put before the electors of the DDA district, which include property owners and tenants within the DDA’s boundaries. The district’s boundaries exclude residential and agricultural properties.

 

At its January 20, 2016, meeting, the DDA adopted a resolution to formally request the Board of Trustees to call an election of the DDA electorate to consider the ballot question for debt authorization of $2.9 million, with repayment of about $5.1 million. At that election in April 2016, the question lost by four votes.

 

Without approval of the debt authorization for projects stemming from the Master Plan update, the DDA would not be able to develop future initiatives until a future election. NDDA Board Chair Katrina Harms said the board is going for this amount so they can be flexible and be able to address and reach for grants.

 

“I think we had the support last time and it was getting people to vote. We’re addressing the timeline and how we’re going to get out the vote and making it easier for people to vote. I don’t think we’ve ever not had support. We have a lawyer that wrote the language. The Board approved the debt authorization ballot question.

 

At the August 16 meeting, Harms went over the timeline for the election process. She needs to meet soon with the town clerk who will be involved in the election with ballots and affidavits that come back to Town Hall. On August 20, she meets with the designated election official.

 

On August 31, the election notice affidavits will be mailed to identified property and business owners. These will come back to Town Hall, Harms said. This mailing is not required by law but they want to use this opportunity to tell people about the election. This informational mailing to district members will answer questions about the process, the election and who gets to vote.

 

On September 15, An NDDA debt authorization informational letter containing frequently asked questions will be mailed to district members. On October 1, TABOR Notices go out to the people again and are posted, Harms said.

 

On October 15, the NDDA will promote the election with mailings and door-to-door visits. They could do an open house. Board Member Peter Marshall said he will look at Crosscut for a date.

 

They will also need to hire judges for election day, which is November 7. “We can tell the judges not to accept a ballot without an affidavit,” Harms said. That’s one of the good things about having a firm to do it. We’ll hire locals for judges, but the firm will train them.”

 

Board Member Brent Tregaskis suggested they don’t have the affidavits notarized. “I don’t think people will take the time to do it. Most people don’t have a notary handy.” Harms said we are not going to do the notary. We’ll send an affidavit, but it doesn’t have to be notarized.

 

Harms told Business Owner Ron Mitchell that the concept of an Entertainment District has been added to the list of projects to be funded by the debt authorization. “We don’t have time to talk about it before the election. We have the documents and research we’ve done.”

 

The next meeting of the NDDA Board will be on Wednesday, September 20, 2017, at 6:30 p.m., at the Nederland Community Center.

 

 

(Originally published in the August 24, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)