By state statute, the Delta Urban Renewal Authority has 120 days to reach agreement with taxing districts being asked to give up sales, property and/or lodging tax to help fund a hotel project described as a "catalyst" for economic development.
With that deadline looming, the Delta County Commissioners held a special meeting the morning of Thursday, Aug. 17, to finalize a counterproposal that was presented to the DURA board Thursday night. The proposal was discussed in executive session, under the heading of negotiations, and no action was taken.
The DURA board consists of the five city council members plus three representatives of the participating taxing entities and a mayoral appointee. Jill Jurca represents Delta County Joint School District #50, Don Suppes is Delta County's representative, Bill Crank represents the smaller taxing districts, and Tom Huerkamp is the mayoral appointee. But because the county is a major contributor to the project, it's asking for additional representation. The county's proposal, which has gone through numerous revisions, asks that the mayoral appointee be an individual selected by the county, giving the county two representatives on the board.
The county is willing to give up 100 percent of the property tax increment in the plan area, but carved out a smaller area for county sales tax to be considered for appropriation on an annual basis.
In addition, the county has determined the lodging tax revenue can not be appropriated to DURA. Legal counsel has advised the county commissioners lodging tax can only be used for marketing and promotion, not for infrastructure or other purposes.
City manager David Torgler discussed the next step at Morning Buzz, hosted by the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning.
Although the city could go directly to mediation now, he said it's hoping for a 30-day extension to continue negotiations with the county and other taxing entities not yet on board.
"We really don't want to go there," Torgler said, "but if we don't get the 30-day extension we have no choice but to activate mediation or let tax increment go. We've looked at the [financial] analysis. We really need everybody all in. If we don't get everybody all in, we're going to have to scale back what DURA might be able to contribute to a public-private partnership, which may make that hotel project no longer feasible."
Two fatal accidents occurred in Delta County within a two-day span last week.
Casey Gillenwater, 25, of Delta was killed the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 13, in a single-vehicle rollover on Highway 133 outside of Hotchkiss.