The attorneys of White, Bear & Ankele are among Colorado’s most experienced and innovative leaders in the use of local government entities to finance infrastructure and services in new and existing developments. We provide strategic advice to developers, property owners, communities, and others on the many public and quasi-public entities available in Colorado. The depth of our experience allows us to provide cutting-edge solutions to unique project needs.
Our attorneys represent many of Colorado’s premier residential and commercial developers engaged in raw-land residential development, re-development, and commercial and mixed-use development across Colorado. We deliver public financing solutions for the public infrastructure needs of projects of all sizes. We take a creative, problem-solving approach to our practice and focus our efforts on achieving our clients’ development objectives.
We also assist communities and individuals who turn to special purpose taxing districts to address the public infrastructure needs of existing residential developments. Whether for a project as small as new perimeter fencing or as large as a community recreation center, our attorneys can explain how local government financing can be used to fund community projects.
By far the most common vehicle of tax-exempt financing is the Colorado Special District formed under Title 32 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Special Districts, sometimes referred to as “Metro Districts,” can fund a wide range of public infrastructure including water, sanitation, streets, sidewalks, bridges, tunnels, transportation, landscaping, parks and recreational facilities, drainage, and other facilities and services. The importance of this form of public financing in Colorado development is evidenced by over 1000 Special Districts in operation in Colorado today.
Over the years, we have helped our clients organize and operate hundreds of Special Districts on both vacant and occupied land from the Front Range to Colorado’s mountain communities and resorts. We help our clients form and operate these Special Districts and represent them in the issuance of tax-exempt bonds and the construction and operation of public infrastructure. The proceeds of these bonds, issued at lower interest rates than private-sector alternatives can offer, provide needed capital to help new developments succeed or to improve the infrastructure of existing communities.
We welcome developers, citizen groups, and existing Special Districts to seek our representation with regards to any need or concern relevant to Special District governance and operations.
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At times our clients’ needs can most effectively be met through the use of specialized improvemen t districts. Colorado law provides for several types of improvement districts with unique purposes, powers, and governance structures. There are improvement district structures available for use within both municipalities and counties. The attorneys of White, Bear and Ankele are experienced in the use of all types of improvement districts and provide counsel on the relative benefits of their use based on real-life applications.
A General Improvement District (GID) is very similar to a Special District in terms of its powers and functions. A GID, however, can provide virtually any public improvement or service while a Special District is subject to more limitation. Unlike a Special District, the Board of Directors of a GID is the city or town council, rather than developer or property owner representatives.
A Public Improvement District (PID) is similar to a GID but is formed on property located in the unincorporated areas of a county.
A Business Improvement District (BID) is formed within a municipality to benefit commercial (non-residential) property. A group of business owners may find this structure attractive to fund the construction of sidewalks, pedestrian malls, bike paths, information booths, landscaping, drainage facilities, security services, off-street parking facilities, or other business-related facilities and services. A BID can even conduct marketing efforts. The facilities and services provided by a BID are funded through property taxes, special charges, or special assessments.
A Special Improvement District (SID) can be used only within municipal boundaries. It is the classic “assessment” district and does not have the authority to finance projects through property taxes. A SID can finance virtually any public improvement authorized to be provided by the municipality in which it is located. However, a SID cannot operate and maintain these facilities, so they must be transferred to the municipality or other governmental entity after construction.
A Local Improvement District (LID) is a local government mechanism similar to a SID but available only for property located in the unincorporated area of a county. A LID can finance virtually any public improvement authorized to be provided by the county in which it is located. Unlike a SID, a LID can also fund operations and maintenance of facilities through a special sales tax.
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In addition to Special Districts and improvement districts, there are a variety of other types of governmental and quasi-governmental entities that have specific financing and related powers such as tunnel districts, drainage districts, regional improvement districts, and local marketing districts. Our attorneys are also experienced in the implementation of these less commonly used entities.
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The Colorado Constitution and Statutes encourage cooperation among governmental entities by authorizing various forms of intergovernmental relationships, including relationships formed by intergovernmental agreements as well as statutory “Authorities.” The attorneys of White Bear & Ankele draft intergovernmental agreements covering virtually every kind of joint activity that serves the needs of local government, helping to create beneficial relationship involving traditional town, city, and county governments as well as Special Districts and other forms of quasi-governmental entities.
We have also used our collective knowledge and experience in development-oriented governmental finance to create various Authorities serving the collective needs of larger developments and communities. Our combination of substantive knowledge, political sensitivity, and creative thinking help to bring parties together to achieve substantial common objectives.
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Municipal governments face complex issues that often involve many areas of law. Attorneys of White, Bear & Ankele have developed expertise as public servants through years of legal and political experience. In 1996 we led the incorporation of the City of Lone Tree, Colorado, and have since provided services to Lone Tree as City Attorney and City Prosecutor. We have also provided counsel on specific legal matters to various other municipalities. The depth of our experience with both the legal and political aspects of municipal governance allows us to offer a broad range of services to municipal governments including:
- Drafting ordinances, resolutions, charters, and contracts
- Implementing zoning and other land use controls
- Facilitating annexations
- Prosecuting violations of local law
- Attending meetings and advising elected officials
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Often our clients can best achieve their development, re-development, or community improvement objectives by strategically drawing on the financial powers of local government taxing entities. Public financing through local government can involve the issuance of General Obligation Bonds and Revenue Bonds, or the assessment of Public Improvement Fees. We help our clients utilize the public financing tools most appropriate to their infrastructure needs, including providing counsel as to the timing, structuring, and ultimate issuance of municipal bonds.
General Obligation Bonds are generally tax-exempt and can be issued at lower interest rates than traditional private-sector alternatives, reducing both the cost of borrowing and the cost of repayment. As a result, our clients are able to realize significant savings, which can lower project costs and benefit future residents and users. General Obligation Bonds and are repaid over a period up to 40 years through property taxes imposed on the property benefited by the improvements constructed. We assist our clients with the structuring and ultimate issuance of General Obligation Bonds to benefit both new and existing communities.
Revenue Bonds are also generally tax-exempt and are secured by the pledge of fees, rates, tolls, or charges. Revenue bonds are often issued by single-purpose entities such as Water & Sanitation Districts and Transportation Authorities that charge fees or tolls for the services they provide. Since these fees can be used to repay bonds over time, services needed in a new or existing community can be provided sooner and more effectively than without public financing options. We assist our clients with the structuring and ultimate issuance of Revenue Bonds.
White, Bear & Ankele has also been an innovator in the use of alternative revenue streams to support General Obligation or Revenue Bonds, including revenue-sharing through sales tax or impact fee rebates and credits, obtaining state and local grants, and facilitating participation in state loan programs.
An alternative revenue stream of special note is the Public Improvement Fee. The firm created the concept of the Public Improvement Fee for use in funding public infrastructure in connection with the development of the Park Meadows Mall. Public Improvement Fees are fees imposed by the developer of a project, typically retail development, through the recording of covenants against the property within the project. The most common application of Public Improvement Fees is in connection with retail sales transactions where the fee is charged as a percentage of the sales transaction. Instances also exist where the fee is charged as a percentage of other kinds of transactions.
The use of Public Improvement Fees tends to provide more flexibility to developers of commercial property than other types of financing and Public Improvement Fees can be used to secure the repayment of bonds. We assist our commercial clients with the creation and implementation of the necessary covenants which create Public Improvement Fees and with the issuance of debt secured by the fees.
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With the 1992 advent of Colorado’s “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights,” better known as TABOR, local government entities faced a new body of law that controls how and when a local government may create new taxes, issue debt, or retain unspent public revenues. We take a proactive approach to operating local governments within the limitations of TABOR by providing proven solutions to our clients, allowing them to navigate TABOR’s limitations and effectively leverage the financial powers of special taxing districts to achieve their objectives.
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