BY JAN WONDRA
Tom Bishop is one of two city councilmembers who has chosen not to run for re-election in Greenwood Village this November. If he had, it would have been his final term in the District 4 seat he has held since 2011. He is leaving with a sense of satisfaction on what has been accomplished, as well as with a few cautionary comments.
Bishop had brought extensive experience to City Council from his 36-year career in municipal finance, including multiple terms on the Colorado Municipal Bond Supervision Advisory Board, appointed by the governor.
He says during his tenure he has seen council work collaboratively on everything from the development of the Village Center to adding open space and ensuring the financial security of the Village with sufficient reserve funds and strong financial processes.
That discipline will be important, he says, as the city’s current drift may well affect future revenues, from sales tax and building fees, as he sees the collaborative spirit of the council diminish.
“I support smart growth that can protect our economic base,” Bishop said. “But it’s got to be based on honest and fact-based dialogue. Our land-use decisions now will have a direct impact on our financial future. Misinformation is not helpful and it has contributed to this council’s inability to build consensus and lead.”
Bishop is clear about what he believes the city needs to do to growth intelligently.
“We need to embrace diversity and recognize that it’s an asset and not a liability, both socially and economically,” he said. “I think this underlies all these issues we’re dealing with—schools and traffic and density. We need to embrace this diversity and not reject it.”
Asked for an example of misinformation in play during this election season, Bishop said, “The basic fact is that offices produce more, not less, traffic than residential development. The opposite is being circulated. Fear is the result of misinformation. It is an obvious thing that the Save Our Village group is using misinformation about things like this. I’m concerned about the undercurrent. In my mind, it’s frankly prejudicial. Who are they talking about when they say, ‘We don’t want ‘those people’?’ Who are those people? Someone who looks different? Someone who teaches our kids?”
Bishop said that smart land development and redevelopment will underlie the financial success of Greenwood Village and the outcome from a lack of smart development is concerning.
“This will be a slow process that could erode our tax base over time,” he said. “The revenue values will go down when properties aren’t developed or redeveloped in a smart way. Once we start this drip-drip of reduction in our sales and property tax, we’ll have growth rising around us with no ability to raise capital-infrastructure revenue. That could mean higher property taxes, squeezing the expense budget and raising revenues by doing things like reimposing the sales tax on automobiles. A stroke of the City Council pen can do that. Or charging for trash collection, or imposing athletic-club fees. It’s said that whatever the market is demanding of your community, if you aren’t welcoming it and tailoring it to your values, instead of turning it aside, you’re not being wise.”
Bishop is concerned about the agenda being advanced by the citizen group known as Save Our Village.
“The faction seems more focused on protecting their station in life than considering what is best for the whole of Greenwood Village,” he said. “I urge our electorate to expect excellence, encourage and support those who serve on this council who have direct experience on our commissions and boards, and rely on experienced staff and external expert resources to educate themselves before decisions are made.”
Asked about his plans after his term is done, Bishop said, “My wife Trinda and I have traveling to do. It has been an honor to serve my community, but I’ve got grandchildren to see, golf to play.”
Editor’s note: This is the first of two interviews with outgoing GWV City Council members. Next week, Leslie Schluter.
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