Colorado Peak Politics
August 14, 2014
Aurora politics have been thrust into the spotlight based on reports that a new hotel tax scheme is fostering corporate welfare on a massive scale.

The controversial Gaylord Hotel project in Aurora is benefiting from a special tax district created by the Aurora City Council.  The catch is that only a single voter has approved the tax increases in this special district, and all the future revenue has been awarded to the Gaylord project’s developer.  The whole thing sounds fishy by any measure.

The Colorado Springs Gazette explains further: 

The city of Aurora invented an incentive tool called an enhanced taxing area to levy higher admissions and lodging taxes, imposed a general improvement district with a 40-mill property tax levy, and declared agricultural land blighted to use urban renewal tax incentives.

Critics say the Aurora deal is an unprecedented giveaway of taxpayer money to a private developer over a 30-year period. [Peak emphasis]

As the Gazette notes in its story the Gaylord Hotel project has been “mired in controversy for years,” but because it is so complicated few people understand the details.  That, however, is no longer the case.  As the paper shines a light on this corporate welfare scheme, politically influential groups are sounding the alarm: 

“This scheme combines crony-contortions with the exploitation of Colorado taxpayers,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. “The fact that an out-of-state developer can vote for the existence of a new tax district, with only a single person voting, then funnel those revenues straight back to that developer, is an egregious abuse of the voting and tax systems. Coloradans should all hold on to our wallets if this is allowed to stand, because the precedent will spread across our state.”

Maher is exactly right that we cannot allow this to become the new normal otherwise Colorado will soon go the way of Chicago and New Jersey when it comes to corruption.