I am writing this letter after an Aurora City Council meeting made public an expenditure which I believe to be clearly excessive and not in the best interest of we the taxpayers. Of course, our city elected officials who approved this purchase would probably disagree. Special interest by its very nature is subjective, as in the eyes of the beholder.
When I heard about the Vintage Theater purchase, I submitted a records-request form to the City of Aurora, asking for a copy of the purchase agreement and the subsequent lease agreement with the tenant, Vintage Theatre Productions, Inc. The city purchased the Vintage Theater at 1468 Dayton St., which is one block south of Colfax on Dayton, for $775,000 in July 2014.
The city then rented it to Vintage Productions, a private enterprise, for $10 per year, yes, this is not a misprint, $10 per year. The current lease agreement for 2017 still leases the property to Vintage for $10 per year; however, the document for 2017 also provides some other interesting and disturbing facts.
Article 11 states the market rent for the property is $4,370 per month, or $52,440 per year. The landlord (Aurora) agrees to accept payment of $10 as rent for the year with the remaining $52,430 presumed to be a grant to the tenant from the landlord, the City of Aurora.
I do not have numbers from 2016, but it is my understanding that the gross revenues from Vintage Productions in 2015 were $640,000. One would guess that it was the same or more in 2016. It would appear that this enterprise could afford more than just $10 per year. On the surface, this reeks of special interest.
It is my understanding that this is not the only property of similar circumstances that the city has purchased and leased at negative cash flow. Since these properties were clearly of the artsy type, this is where the subjectivity I mentioned in paragraph one comes into play. Is it truly in the best interest of the entire city, or just a select few? And what is the best use of the millions spent, with not just no return, but clearly negative returns?
Again, it is my understanding that when the city purchases a property, the county no longer taxes it, so the revenue to Arapahoe County would be diminished by the real-market tax base for the properties. The city would also lose tax revenue, since the county sends a percentage of the tax revenue back to the city. I have been to town halls where I hear that the city is short of funds and may be asking for a sales-tax increase to fund city services and the proverbial “pothole” fixes.
That all being said, I don’t think that in this day and age of tight budgets, and in some cases bloated government budgets, that we can afford to fund these pet projects, which have such a negative financial impact. Why is the city even in the business of picking winners and losers? Is that really what we want to the city to do? The stewardship, again in my opinion, needs to be revisited, and all taxpayers need to pay much closer attention to the facts, and not the smoke and mirrors and spin regurgitated by our elected officials.
I am Joe McGowan Jr., retired Colorado-Wyoming bureau chief for the Associated Press now living in Broomfield. I normally don’t get to see The Villager but have been a friend and admirer of the Sweeneys for a long time. I happened to see the March 2 issue because my daughter picked up some copies. In the same issue as Mort Marks’s column, “President Trump’s Outstanding Month,” was a story about my granddaughter, Brandie Bolton, winning the lip-sync contest at the Wyoming Press Association convention in Cheyenne.
Just wanted to say how much I appreciated your column about President Trump. Most of the media are out to get him and I am disgusted at those in the general public who are out there even committing violence to make their point against his administration. If you ever want to get really disgusted, pick up a copy of the Boulder Camera!!!
Keep up the good work.
As a voter in state Senate District 26, I strongly support state Sen. Daniel Kagan’s bill to strengthen Colorado’s behavioral-health crisis system (SB 17 207). People suffering a mental health crisis who have not committed a crime do not belong in jail. If they need an emergency 72-hour health hold to prevent harm to themselves or others, it should be in a clinically appropriate setting with assistance from trained healthcare professionals.
Sen. Kagan appreciates that we should do a better job addressing the needs of citizens with mental health issues. Being locked in a jail can worsen a crisis. Conversely, early intervention by a trained healthcare provider may shorten or even eliminate the need for a hold. Sen. Kagan’s bill provides the necessary framework and funding. The Department of Human Services’ Office of Behavioral Health is a strong supporter and the Colorado Hospital Association has indicated either neutrality or support for the bill. Funding will come from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund. This fund differs from the marijuana taxes used to fund schools, and neither can pay for roads. Thus, the program would not divert money from education or roads.
I hope you’ll join me in supporting SB 17 207, Sen. Daniel Kagan’s bill to end the use of jails for mental health holds of law-abiding citizens in crisis.
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