Cast your vote!
Three of five seats on the WCMD board are up for election on Tuesday, May 6. 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. Each elector will be required to sign a Voter Self Affirmation reflecting how they are eligible to vote.
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 six candidate statements are printed on page 36.
Westerly Creek Metropolitan District (WCMD) collects the tax that funds the construction of Stapleton’s infrastructure not covered by TIF. The WCMD tax appears on Stapleton property tax bills.
Powers of the WCMD Board—The WCMD board is composed of five elected members, but the powers of the 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 Park Creek Metro District (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, 2041. The latest maturity dates for outstanding District obligations to Forest City or related parties range from December 15, 2044 to June 1, 2052, 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; and the costs of completion of all public infrastructure required for full development of Stapleton can not 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.
How much does WCMD collect? The WCMD revenue in 2012 was $15.8 million and is projected to be $18.9 million in 2014, according to WCMD documents filed with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. (The WCMD Service Plan and other documents can be downloaded from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs at https://dola.colorado.gov/lgis/ >scroll down the “W” list.)
How does TIF differ from the WCMD tax? TIF is used exclusively to fund regional infrastructure (including major streets, regional parks, drainage, and five K-8 schools) until 2025, when TIF ends. Unlike the WCMD property tax, TIF is not an additional sales or property tax. (An explanation of TIF is available here.)
Next month the Front Porch will show a comparison of revenue collected from TIF and from WCMD during the years 2000 to 2013.
Vote for no more than two of the following for a 4-year term:
As a local real estate attorney, a 10-year Stapleton resident and the mother of two kids attending Bill Roberts, I will use my legal background and knowledge of the Stapleton neighborhood to make the WCMD more efficient, professional and responsive to community input. I have substantial experience working on development projects and understand the importance of transparent governance and statutory limitations imposed on special districts. I will work with our stakeholders to ensure that the development contemplated by the Green Book is completed and the bond obligations are satisfied. It’s critical to have transparent and active directors to implement the service plan in a thoughtful and cost-effective manner. This is exactly what I plan to do as a board member. And with this, I ask for your vote.
I live in Stapleton with my wife and three daughters—who are in K, 4th and 7th grades at Westerly Creek Elementary School and McAuliffe International School—our dog, Bigsy, and extended family nearby. Having lived and been active here since 2005, I believe I have a good sense of the needs and sentiments of our community. I have been a regulatory/licensing attorney for my whole career, except for the years I spent running the Children’s Museum of Denver. As such, my work on public finance and special district issues gives me a solid background for the WCMD Board. I was agitated to run for this position as the issues arose regarding the new Stapleton high school. I believe that the legal entity, which raises the money in Stapleton, should be a player at the table in addressing our community’s significant needs. I am running on a slate with Dave Ungemah and Tim Thornton who are similarly motivated.
John Lehigh is the President and Chief Operating Officer for Forest City Stapleton, Inc. He brings more than 30 years of major real estate development experience to his role in overseeing the redevelopment of Stapleton. Mr. Lehigh holds a bachelor of science and master of science degrees in civil engineering from the University of Nebraska. He is also a registered engineer in Ohio, Texas and Colorado. He has served on the WCMD Board since its inception in 2000.
“The Board of Directors of the Westerly Creek Metropolitan District plays a critical role in the development of the public infrastructure required to make Stapleton one of the nation’s most widely acclaimed urban neighborhoods,” Mr. Lehigh said. “I believe my grasp of the many complexities related to the redevelopment of Stapleton will ensure the District is a wise steward of the tax revenues it has been entrusted to levy.”
As a Stapleton resident, I care deeply about our local community and have a long-term interest in maintaining and improving our infrastructure in a fiscally sustainable way. As a consultant to the infrastructure industry, I also have direct experience creating strategies to help pay for infrastructure, including estimating the revenue-generating potential of special tax districts such as the WCMD. As such, I am uniquely qualified to provide the oversight and due diligence necessary to facilitate sound and informed decision making as a member of the Board of Directors. I would enthusiastically embrace the opportunity to apply my professional skills to help maintain and enhance the Stapleton community. In addition to contributing to our infrastructure needs in accordance with the WCMD Service Plan, I am also open to exploring new ways that the WCMD could help meet the civic needs of our community, including our immediate public education needs.
Vote for no more than one of the following for a 2-year term:
I have spent the past eight years serving as the Executive Director of the Stapleton Master Community Association (MCA), one of the entities charged with maintaining infrastructure funded by the Westerly Creek Metropolitan District (WCMD). This includes community pools, parks, and many miles of alleys and rights-of-way. It is important to note that the Stapleton development process is not only complex, but also very structured. Although the WCMD has a single mission and a taxing authority, it is limited in its ability to influence or impact the direction of development in Stapleton. In my role, I’ve developed an awareness and understanding of the “matrix” in which development happens within the community; many entities have specific accountabilities and decision-making authority, all of which play a role in informing the future of Stapleton. I am positive I can provide the WCMD with expertise and leadership to ensure the infrastructure needed in Stapleton is sufficiently funded.
Since I was a young child, I have had a connection with our infrastructure. This has led to a 20-year career as a transportation planner dedicated to providing traffic relief options. In seeking an appointment with the WCMD, I intend to put my professional knowledge and reputation for innovation in public policy to use for the betterment of all Stapleton area residents. As a custodian of our property tax mill levy, I intend to not only provide diligence and oversight over our tax contributions, but also to offer viable ideas toward helping solve issues concerning Stapleton’s build-out. This will certainly include issues such as common facilities, maintenance of existing infrastructure, and adequacy of utilities; however, it may also include creative ways WCMD can be a participant in resolving current high-profile issues, such as common recreation and arts facilities and the completion of Northfield High School.