Support Local Foods In Colorado
Letter of Informed SupportProposal Submitted By the Local Foods Campus to the Westminster Economic Development Authority (WEDA)
I have added my signature to this Letter to indicate my informed Support for WEDA to utilize portions of the future excess Sales Tax Increments generated by the South Sheridan URA to provide direct financial support to establish a Year-Round In-Door Farmers’ Market Grocery or Local Foods Market (for a shorter name).
I think it is good public policy to use a small portion of the sales tax revenue generated each year by the Wal-Mart, McDonalds & Starbucks in the South Sheridan Urban Renewal Area to help fund this true Community Project.
I am aware of the financial details of this Request for Support for the Local Foods Campus’ Local Foods Market. I fully understand that this Urban Renewal Area (URA) has generated over $5 Million of extra Sales Tax Increments over the last 4 years and the City has kept all of this $5 Million to use elsewhere in the City and decided NOT to reinvest even one dollar of this $5 Million in the area.
I understand that at the end of this year, this same URA will have generated another nearly $2 Million in extra Sales Tax Increments and again the City fully intends to keep of all of this $2 Million to use else where the City. I also fully understand that for the remainder of the next 13 years of the life of this URA, it will continue to generate an estimated $2 Million per year.
I fully understand that the Local Foods Campus is requesting WEDA issue a Bond whose proceeds will be used to pay for the freezers, coolers, shelves and dozens of other items needed to renovate and redevelop an outdated retail space to build out a fully operational Local Foods Market Grocery Store to reduce retail vacancy in what is now an empty shell – and that this Local Foods Market will help improve property values in the area and improve the City’s tax base.
I understand that in Staff’s own words, the purpose of the South Sheridan URA is to:
"The Plan was undertaken for the Public Purpose to reduce traffic congestion and enhance mobility in the area, renovate or redevelop the deteriorated and/or outdated retail, manufacturing, and office buildings, enhance the aesthetic appearance of the area, reduce the retail vacancy rate in the area, improve property values in the area, secure and improve additional public parks, open space and trail connections and improve the tax base of the area." (Excerpt from City Staff Report detailing the Purpose of the South Sheridan Urban Renewal Area)
I also understand that the Local Foods Campus must match the City’s support by raising an additional $1.7 Million on their own to operate this Local Foods Market Grocery.
With this understanding, I fully agree and support WEDA allocating $365,000 per year, for the next 13 years, or about 18% of this $2 Million a year to be used to pay back the Bonds that will be used to pay to convert this empty Albertsons into the Local Foods Market. I understand that the City has no obligations to pay back this Bond, but that it will totally paid back out of the extra Sales Taxes already being generated here by the South Sheridan URA but not invested in here.
I understand that Staff is arguing that in the past WEDA has never used the URA Funds to support a small business like this and has only used the URA Funds to support big developers to build big box retailers like Wal-Marts and Whole Foods – and therefore WEDA should not support this innovative use of URA Funds to support our Local Foods Market. I do not agree. It is Community Projects like this that truly revitalize neighborhoods. I believe this is a great use of Urban Renewal Funds.
I understand that Staff is arguing that in the past when WEDA did use URA Funds to help big developers to build a Wal-Mart they only offered the big developer sales tax rebates and WEDA did not invest money up front to support a project – and for this reason WEDA should not support a Bond up front to support the Local Foods Market. I disagree. By the end of 2015, the City of Westminster will have retained over $7 Million from this URA and not reinvested one dollar in the nearly vacant Hidden Lake Shopping Center. The City plans to take another $26 Million out of this URA over the next 13 years.
I think WEDA can use just 18% of this future amount - $365,000 per year out of $2 Million per year – and use it to pay for Bonds to allow us to have a Local Foods Market now. If you really want to change the perceptions in the minds of voters regarding URA funds – it’s simple, then really change the way you use the URA Funds. This is not an issue of “Bad Political Optics”, this is an issue of “Good Public Policy”.
I have signed this letter to show my informed support for this great Community Project in an area of the City that really deserves the City’s support.
- Westminster City Council
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