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Petition Drive To Repeal Urban Renewal Nears Finish

Bill Van Horn of Estes Park Citizens for Responsible Government announced this week that their citizen’s initiative petition drive is nearing the finish line. “With the help of good volunteers, we’ve gathered more than the minimum required to reach the ballot,” said Van Horn. “We want to continue gathering more signatures than required to ensure that the Town does not again reject our right to access the ballot.” Only registered voters within Town limits can validly sign the petition.

The ballot initiative would abolish the existing urban renewal authority and require a public vote to create a new authority in the future. Van Horn submitted a similar ballot initiative in July 2008, but the Town rejected it. In March 2009, a Larimer County District Court judge ruled that Van Horn’s group was legally entitled to proceed with the ballot initiative, but deferred judgment on some of the arguments presented by attorneys for the Town and the EPURA board. Van Horn revised his initiative to conform more closely to the language of existing Colorado statutes.

Van Horn contends that urban renewal’s tax increment financing for development creates one of two results: less revenue for taxing districts and Larimer County or higher taxes for residents and businesses. “The money doesn’t come from nowhere,” said Van Horn. “Every unit of government is facing a budget crunch. Diverting tax dollars to future development can only make it worse.” Van Horn believes that “tax relief for businesses and retirees would also help our local economy.”

“We will circulate petitions at the Celebrate America Tea Party Event in Performance Park, Saturday July 4th from 1 to 3 p.m.,” Van Horn said. Persons who would like to sign the petition can also contact Bill Van Horn at 586-5900 and he will arrange to collect your signature.

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