The biggest single item on a Stapleton tax bill is WCMD, Stapleton’s special district
Westerly Creek Metropolitan District (WCMD) has an elected board that is chosen through a biannual vote. The tax for this special district results in Stapleton tax bills that are 40% higher than a Denver home not in a special tax district. In this all-mail election, ballots will be sent to all Stapleton voters in mid-April and must be returned by Tuesday, May 8.
Since 2016, all WCMD board members have been Stapleton residential property owners. It had previously been partially or fully occupied by representatives of the developer, Forest City. Two current board members, Tom Downey and Tim Thornton are up for reelection.
Approximately 3% of the total mill levy goes for maintenance and operating costs and 97% is used to pay for debt service and build infrastructure. There is no ending date for the WCMD tax, and it will remain at least at current levels until all debt is paid off. Once all debt is paid off, the tax will primarily be needed to cover maintenance, though new or replacement infrastructure needs could arise by that time.
The tax collected by WCMD is specifically used for local infrastructure development, including neighborhood streets and alleys, pools and pocket parks. The biggest remaining local infrastructure projects are in the one square mile of Stapleton land north of E. 56th Ave and the southeasternmost parts of Stapleton just west of Peoria and in Stapleton-Aurora.
Eighty percent of the local infrastructure costs (which are paid by the WCMD tax) have been spent, according to Brian Fennelly, chief financial officer at Forest City. The current principal balance is $518,795,650. More than 90% of the land has been purchased by Forest City. More than 80% of the single family for-sale housing lots and 50% of land needed for apartments has been transferred to builders-—making Stapleton housing overall at about 73% built, under construction, or the land is in the possession of builders.
Regional infrastructure at Stapleton has been paid for by Tax Increment Financing, which will end in 2025, after which WCMD funds will be used for any remaining infrastructure development.
The original structure of WCMD dictated that WCMD board members have the authority to review revenue and expenses but they are required by the terms of the special district service agreement to pass on the WCMD tax revenue to the Park Creek Metro District (PCMD). PCMD is solely responsible for the financing and construction of all public infrastructure at Stapleton, including major roads, drainage, landscaping, water and sewer lines and regional parks.
The WCMD board has signaled its intent to re-evaluate the two-district structure (WCMD and PCMD) and a desire to renegotiate its 17-year old service agreement that defines the roles of the two districts.