Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jesse Murphy
Editorial@lhvc.com 

Burgundy Park looks for PID

 

October 20, 2017



Burgundy Park, a Niwot subdivision northeast of the intersection of Niwot Road and 79th Street, is the first to take advantage of an offer from Boulder County to create a Public Improvement District.

The measure will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot for residents in that area only, a total of 112 voters, according to the most recent county voter registration information.

Lance Carlson lives in Burgundy Park and has been one of the Homeowners Association members working to get this measure on the ballot.

“We walked the neighborhood to talk to every household about the petition,” Carlson said. “We clearly have a majority support amongst the homeowners. So as representatives of the homeowners association, we felt it was appropriate to step out to the renters and family members like adult children and seek their signatures on the petition as well.”

The group contacted 80 of the 112 registered voters in the neighborhood, 71 of whom signed the petition. A simple majority in November will pass the PID.

“We’ve been very proactive with our homeowners in terms of communication through the HOA mailing list,” Carlson said. “Before the petition we had three separate meetings about this. So it was a very deliberate effort with all of the people involved. A lot of research went into it as well.”

That research led the group to discover some intriguing things about Colorado PIDs.

A PID is its own entity, and its board of directors are the county commissioners, who decide how the money gets spent. The only way a PID can be dissolved is by a decision by the board, which ultimately makes the county the “end-all-be-all” when it comes to where, when and how the PID is managed.

“The PID laws here in Colorado are, I’ll say, very interesting,” Carlson said. “For example, early on, there was a misunderstanding that this PID is a state statute. We’re giving our money to the county to do something correct with it.

“The county decided not to do their duty and maintain the roads in the past, so we thought we’ll be protected by this PID because it’s a state statute and if the county fails to use our money wisely we can get help from the state. That is a total fallacy.”

The PID, if passed, will result in a levy of 16.597 mils paid by all property owners within the district. That means renters get a vote along with homeowners.

Carlson pointed out the history of the county and various attempts on taxation for subdivision roads. The county presented a blanket PID ballot issue for all of unincorporated Boulder County, which did not pass through voters. Then there was a Local Improvement District enacted by the county commissioners that was challenged in court and found to be illegal.

Another PID was presented in the last election that also failed, followed by another suit against the county for being derelict in their duty to maintain county roads. That suit failed and was appealed, with the courts ruling the county does have an obligation to maintain roads, but that the court can not dictate the level of spending. The decision was appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court which declined to hear the case.

“If you think about it from the subdivision homeowners’ point of view, the county is in the wrong here,” Carlson said. “They’re supposed to be maintaining our roads. I bought my home thinking the county would be taking care of the roads. Here we are 25 years later and our roads are essentially starting to crumble.”

Carlson said that after all of this, the HOA of Burgundy Park saw the offer of a PID from the county and decided to go for it.

“Our only alternative is to do something like the PID,” Carlson said. “But if you look at it, we’re voting to increase taxes on ourselves, it goes straight to the PID, and the county decides where the money is spent, and if we don’t like how they’re spending the money, they are the only ones that can shut that down.

“It is an incredibly scary thing if you think about it, yet it is the only sensible alternative for a small neighborhood that wants to preserve the quality of our roads.”

As presented on the ballot, the county will loan about $500,000 (half of the beginning work) without interest, along with a contribution of 30 percent of that amount as an incentive to pass the PID.

On a 20-year plan, the PID will begin in 2019 with a complete reconstruction of the roads. This work will be followed in eight and 15 years with chip seal maintenance, and a resurfacing in 20 years.

The only other alternative for residents in subdivisions is to pay for the work themselves. Carlson said that this would entail getting a loan, most likely involving residents putting liens on their homes, and having to work out contracts, noting that their cost would be much higher than the county would pay under a PID.

“I want to point out that although we’ve been unhappy with the county itself, the county transportation department and the people within it have been really good to work with,” Carlson said. “They’ve been very helpful with figuring out the PID and everything that goes with it.”

One concern Carlson has though is that the county commissioners changed the language of their petition from what was submitted to what will actually be implemented by the commissioners should the measure pass.

The changes involved putting limits on the PID. The petition stated that the county could not increase the PID levy, and if costs are less, the levy would be lowered permanently. There was also a cap at the end of the deal. The county, however, by state law, has the right to frame the resolution however the commissioners chose.

“It’s important to us because that was virtually the only control we had on the PID,” Carlson said. “If the costs down the road are less than the current estimate, we want the levy turned down permanently. The commissioners didn’t like that, but they’re looking at it like they won’t be able to continue the tax or raise it in the future.”

Carlson noted that any other subdivisions considering applying for the county’s PID should watch closely to what happens in Burgundy Park, but that they are hoping for the best.

“I wouldn’t call it murky, but I’d call it gray,” Carlson said. “Any subdivision contemplating doing what we’re doing better stay totally on top of it and you better understand every step of the process. Otherwise, you’ll sign a petition and what actually gets implemented could be different.

“We’re enthusiastic to be doing this because we are getting some early-adopters benefits. I think that if other HOA’s start jumping on the wagon, those incentives will go away. And if a lot of HOA’s jump on, the county will find itself in trouble because it’ll suddenly have a whole bunch of PID’s to manage.”

As far as taxes go, Carlson had a rebuttal to one of the county’s biggest arguments against paying for maintenance of subdivision roads.

“They ask why Boulder City residents should pay taxes on subdivision roads,” Carlson said. “My counter to that argument is that why should I have to pay Boulder city tax when I go shop at King Sooper’s or Target? Riddle me that.”

 

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