[The Committee to Preserve Golden (CPG) provides these questions and answers regarding the citizen-initiated Responsible Growth Charter Amendment as part of its campaign literature.--Ed.]
Q. What is text of the Responsible Growth Charter Amendment?"The City shall not have the power or authority to grant incentives for development in connection with the establishment, expansion, or replacement of a business or any commercial, industrial, or residential improvement including: (a) payments or rebates based on tax collected; tax collected; (b) tax waivers, credits, or refunds; (c) deferments or waivers of development fees including, but not limited to, water tap fees, sewer tap fees, building permit fees, or land dedications or fees in lieu thereof; (d) other incentive payments..... Exceptions to [these] restrictions. . . may be made with approval of specific agreements by the voters at any general election or special election scheduled at the discretion of the city council. The ballot utilized in any such election shall include an estimate of the dollar value to the recipient of the aforesaid incentives proposed to be granted."
Q. Would the Charter Amendment prevent the City from fixing up Washington Ave. or Old Golden Road?No. The Charter Amendment requires voter approval of special payments and fee waivers. The charter amendment does not place limits on capital improvements to public property.
Q. Would the Charter Amendment prevent the City from offering senior citizen sales tax rebates?No. The Charter amendment only restricts subsidies for commercial development and residential improvements. Sales tax rebates to seniors are not affected.
Q. Would the Charter Amendment prevent the city from offering incentives for senior and affordable housing, historic preservation, or acquisition of open space?No. After passing a vote of the people, the City could offer subsidies for projects of this type. It should be noted, however, that never in the 12-year history of the City's incentives program have subsidies been offered specifically to achieve these ends.
Q. Would the Charter Amendment expose the City to litigation by forcing it to renege on current subsidy agreements?It is unlikely that subsidy applicants would risk antagonizing their customer base by suing the City (an entity composed of its primary customers) and even more unlikely that a plaintiff suing the City would prevail. The Taxpayers' Bill of Rights (TABOR) already requires that most municipal multiyear financial obligations be put to a vote of the people, and City subsidy agreements are written to comply with it. Applicants for subsidies are already informed verbally and in writing that economic incentives are offered on a year-to-year basis at the discretion of City Council. Hence, even in the rare event that it were to enter litigation, the City would be able to recover its expenses if: (a) such suits were ruled frivolous or (b) the city attorney were found to have been incompetent in drafting the original subsidy agreements.
Q. Did Golden city officials offer Nike subsidies to build on South Table Mountain?Yes--even though South Table Mountain was on the Jeffco Open Space acquisition list.
Q. In the store the other day somebody said that the Charter Amendment would hurt Downtown Golden businesses. Will it?No. Most businesses in Golden do not receive subsidies. In fact, government payments to developers put established merchants at a competitive disadvantage to the subsidized newcomers. By restricting subsidies the Responsible Growth Charter Amendment helps restore a level playing field for local commerce.
Q. My neighbor said that the Committee to Preserve Golden (CPG) did not consult with the community before initiating the Charter Amendment process. Is that right?No. Members of the Committee to Preserve Golden consulted with local business leaders and invited the Golden City Council to participate in drafting the text of the Charter Amendment. A majority on City Council, however, chose not even to place a discussion of the Responsible Growth Charter Amendment on its agenda. It can, of course, also be argued that the petition and election process are the ultimate form of consultation with the community.
Q. What counts as a subsidy?The City of Golden subsidizes the private sector by: (a) rebating tax revenue; (b) waiving fees; and (c) funding capital improvements, e.g., roads and bridges, that make doing business easier. The Charter amendment places restrictions on the first two types of subsidies only.
Q. Will the Charter Amendment help control growth?Yes and no. The Responsible Growth Charter Amendment does not encroach on an individual's freedom to develop his or her property. However, it will internalize developer costs if voters choose not to grant a subsidy. Thus, growth that does occur will, to a greater extent, pay its own way.
Q. Isn't Golden forced to hand out subsidies to recruit new businesses in order to have a larger tax base?An increasing tax base (= growth) means an incremental loss of Golden's small town character. One of the points at issue in the election is whether or not we want to subsidize growth at the expense of decreasing quality of life.
Q. I voted for my City Council representatives so that they could make these decisions for me. Why do we have to take this power away from them now?Citizens retain the ultimate responsibility for good government. As Teddy Roosevelt once observed, "The initiative and referendum should be used not to destroy representative government but to correct it whenever it becomes misrepresentative."
Q. Do any City Council Candidates support the Charter Amendment?Yes. Dave Kibler (At-large), Valerie Walker (Dist. 1), and Bill Simpson (Dist. 2).