Three of five seats on the WCMD board are up for election on Tuesday, May 3. Stapleton residents can cast their vote between 7am and 7pm at 7350 E 29th Ave, Room 200.
To vote, you must be registered to vote in Colorado and either a resident, property owner (natural persons only), or the spouse or civil union partner of a property owner. Absentee ballots can be obtained from the “designated election official,” Micki Wadhams. (303-218-7206 or mwadhams@CCCfirm.com) Park in the lot behind the Berkshire, enter from the back of the building, and take the elevator or stairs to the second floor. The five candidate statements are listed below.
Stapleton infrastructure is being built with revenue from two primary sources: tax increment financing (TIF) and a special assessment from the Westerly Creek Metropolitan District (WCMD).
The TIF does not add to Stapleton tax bills. Under a 25-year agreement among Denver’s taxing entities, property and sales taxes from Stapleton go to Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA), which manages the bonds and funding for Stapleton’s regional infrastructure. Based on a formula in the TIF agreement, DURA also sends a portion of the TIF revenue back to the city for city services in Stapleton.
What is WCMD?
Westerly Creek Metropolitan District (WCMD), however, collects a special assessment over and beyond the usual taxes paid by Denver residents who do not live in a special district. The WCMD tax appears on Stapleton property tax bills. The mill levy for 2016 is 56.619. This tax funds the construction of Stapleton’s local infrastructure such as neighborhood streets, pocket parks and pools.
In 2016, the WCMD mill levy is projected to generate $24.6 million. That revenue is then passed on to the Park Creek Metro District (PCMD) whose role is to get the infrastructure designed and built. PCMD uses funds from TIF and WCMD to pay for construction.
What are the Powers of the WCMD Board?
The WCMD board is composed of five elected members who must be either a resident or property owner in Stapleton. By contrast, the PCMD board is comprised of representatives of the developer (Forest City) and the Stapleton Development Corporation. Powers of the WCMD board are limited, as described in the Service Plan that governs the district since its creation in 2000. The District is required by intergovernmental agreement to pass on all its revenue to PCMD, which ultimately makes the decisions on construction of infrastructure.
Although the board positions have limited authority, they do offer residents the opportunity to watch over the revenue and expenses as they participate in the process of turning over the tax revenue to PCMD. The WCMD board also votes to legally bring in the new Stapleton property that is added to the District’s tax base as Forest City purchases property.
According to the Service Plan, the Westerly Creek Metro District is authorized to incur obligations for infrastructure such as streets, water, drainage, sanitary and parks. The Service Plan also sets the maximum mill levy the Board can collect.
When will the WCMD tax end?
There is no sunset date for the WCMD tax.
According to Paul Cockrel, who provides legal counsel for WCMD and PCMD, the latest maturity date for outstanding District bond debt is December 1, 2045. The latest maturity dates for outstanding District obligations to Forest City or related parties is in 2056, but outstanding obligations to Forest City may, depending on continued growth in the District’s tax base, be prepaid or refunded by issuance of new District bonds with shorter maturities. The costs of completion of all public infrastructure required for full development of Stapleton cannot be definitively determined at this time, so financial forecasts for repayment of future District debt are not available.
The WCMD tax is expected to continue at a lower level after infrastructure debt is paid off to maintain land owned in perpetuity by PCMD.
Vote for no more than three of the following for a 4-year term
I am a supporter of new urbanism design principles and have lived with my family in Eastbridge since 2009. I am running for the board because special districts are a community-based form of government that operate best with the oversight of concerned citizens. I have an MBA and have worked closely with many districts during my almost 20 years with Colorado county and state governments. I have participated actively with the Stapleton Parks Advisory Group (PAG) learning much about our neighborhood and its development. My goals as a board member would be to: continue the WCMD’s responsibilities to finance our local infrastructure, keep our tax rate to do so as low as possible, and increase the transparency between our community and the activities of the Park Creek Metro District which receives all of the WCMD’s funds. I would be honored to have your vote on May 3 or by absentee ballot.
Katie Bedard Dell
I have been a Stapleton resident for ten years and currently reside in the Bluff Lake neighborhood. I also work in Stapleton and appreciate the five-minute drive from home to office. The tag line that Stapleton is a great place to “live, work and play” most certainly applies to me. I have two children, a freshman and a sixth grader, who attend Denver Public Schools. For many years I have been an active community volunteer and served in various volunteer positions at my children’s schools. I’ve also worked advocating for our new schools in meetings with the DPS school board, staff and other community leaders. My goal in serving on the WCMD is to provide oversight, accountability and to ensure the board is as effective as possible during Stapleton’s build-out. I believe the governance of special districts should be as transparent as possible and I will work to diligently toward that goal.
James R. Moody
My goal is to focus on increased transparency about how the District is performing. The powers of the WCMD Board are limited–to collect and transfer property taxes to PCMD. However, the Board is the directly elected voice of Stapleton taxpayers, and should do more to provide information about the District’s performance to the voters. I approach this opportunity as neither a champion nor a critic of how things currently operate. The WCMD fee is a major portion of the property tax bill for Stapleton residents, and taxpayers should have an easier time finding answers to questions such as whether we are on track to adequately fund our infrastructure needs, whether our bond rating is at the right level, and when we are expected to pay off our debt. My wife, two kids and I have lived in Stapleton since 2010, and I had the good fortune to serve on the SUN Board from 2011-2013.
Justin M. Ross
As a 14 year resident this June, I’ve dedicated several years to the likes of the Greater Stapleton Business Association, Citizens Advisory Board, Housing Diversity Committee and the Stapleton Development Corporation. Assisting with the inner workings of the Westerly Creek Metropolitan District, I feel would be the natural progression in my volunteer efforts. I have the background and experience within the community to offer realistic ideas and direction. As a small business owner, I have a firm foundation knowing how business works as well and will prove to be valuable to Stapleton and the Westerly Creek Metropolitan District.
For the past two years, I have been privileged with representing Stapleton area residents and property owners on the WCMD. In partnership with my running mates, Tim Thornton and Tom Downey, we brought an “everyday resident” perspective to the Board that had not had such representation since its creation. Since the election, we have improved communications with residents through our new website and advertising meetings in more commonly accessed locations, critically reviewed the tax revenue generated by the Stapleton community, and identified key common issues with PCMD and Forrest City. Although the powers of the WCMD are very limited, I strongly believe the WCMD’s most important role to play is in planning for the eventual transfer of Stapleton’s infrastructure to the residents of our community and the City of Denver. I will continue to work towards a sustainable, pragmatic, and desirable system of infrastructure for Stapleton.