Adams County, NURA face off in court

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The state appellate court will attempt to settle an ongoing dispute between Adams County and the Northglenn Urban Renewal Authority to determine whether the county Assessor’s Office miscalculated the distribution of tax revenue paid to NURA.

NURA is a governmental entity created by Northglenn City Council in 1990 to improve business areas in the city.

Denver attorney Jeff Parker, who represented NURA, said the dispute began in 2004, when the Northglenn City Council added several undeveloped properties to NURA’s original boundaries set in 1992 — an area that included the former Northglenn Mall located to the west of Interstate 25 and West 104th Avenue.

This process then opened up redevelopment financing for these added areas called tax increment financing (TIF), which is collected through sales and property-tax increases exceeding the rate that, in this case, was set in 2004.

In 2009, council voted to suspend the tax increment financing clock on the undeveloped properties added in 2004 because the economic conditions were not favorable for redevelopment in those areas.

The suit alleges that the Adams County Assessor’s Office is using an incorrect property tax readjustment formula outlined in the Assessor’s Manual to calculate the TIF revenues and the distribution of these revenues to NURA commencing in 2009.

NURA attorneys allege in court documents that the assessor’s calculations are resulting in an ongoing annual loss of about $500,000 in TIF revenue to NURA, which is being distributed to seven taxing entities in NURA’s boundaries, including the city of Northglenn, Adams 12 Five Star Schools and the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.

Parker asserted that the council’s interpretation of state urban renewal laws was accurate when council members decided to suspend the TIF clock in 2009.

“There’s no specific language in the state’s urban renewal law that says you can suspend or renew a TIF property,” Parker said. “When there’s actually no redevelopment occurring, the interpretation is based on underlying purpose of the urban renewal law, which is to use TIF to redevelop property.”

Heidi Miller, who represented Adams County Assessor Gil Reyes and the Board of County Commissioners, said that the Assessor’s Office has no specific formula to calculate TIF distribution when an urban renewal authority suspends a TIFbut asserted employees used the best method that they could find in this case.

“From the county’s perspective, this is not a case where we’ve attempted to argue that the assessor is the end all of tax increment financing or that he necessarily had the right formula or the right answers to the issue that was presented to him,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, for the assessor, it was his (Reyes) job to figure out a way to put an evaluation together for the TIF after Northglenn took the action to suspend the property.”