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Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government

Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government, or CRAG is a citizens group dedicated to accountability, transparency, and fiscal responsibility in the city of Aurora, Colorado.




City of Aurora - Addicted to Red Light Cameras

June 27, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Red Light Camera's 2.0 or Navigating the Aurora Red Light Gauntlet

(Aurora) - Over two years after CRAG highlighted that the initial red light camera installations had no effect on intersection accident rates, the City of Aurora red light juggernaut rolls on. red-light-camera-press-release-Jan3-2011.html

On May 24th, a CRAG member submitted another open records request to ascertain the current status of the program. RedLightCORAandResponse.pdf

The city has repeatedly stated that the purpose of the cameras is to:

1) Reduce the accident rate
2) Reduce the severity of the accidents
3) To hold drivers accountable
4) To change driver behavior.

CRAG believes none of these goals have been accomplished and the entire red light program is an utter failure.

When asked to repeat the data comparison that CRAG used in its initial report two years ago, and provide a current "before & after" accident rate at each of the now 14 red light intersections, the city replied:

"We do not have this information in any current report. Even if we designed a query, many accident reports upon individual review, would include accidents that were not intersection related (i.e. in adjoining parking lot or half a block away etc), which would require labor and time intensive analysis."
This caviler response begs the question . . . How can you quantify accident data, when you are not even reviewing the material? How can you make the case that red light cameras reduce the accident rate and severity if you are not researching the data?

CRAG believes the City of Aurora cameras are "all about the money". RedLightTicketRevenue.pdf

- In 2012, gross revenues climbed to $3,251,483
- Since mid 2010, 135,266 tickets have been issued. This amounts to thousands of tickets being issued per month.

Ironically, power point slides from the Police Dept presentation, allegedly showing violations, distracted drivers, near misses and actual crashes highlight that having red light cameras makes no difference in driver behavior. [This is a large 36 page color pdf. This file will take 2-4 minutes to load] RedLightPDPresentation.pdf

When asked what percent of fines are written off as non-collectable, the city responded "Violations are not 'written of(f) as non-collectable' they are sent to collections and reported to the credit bureau until paid." The city has made it their mission to hound people and force them to pay.

Some local activists have considered the initiative process to scale back the use of automated ticketing devices.

On July 8th, Aurora City Council will consider the matter and will vote on whether to continue the existing contract for another year. RedLightVendorContract.pdf

CRAG urges Aurora residents to attend and testify, and oppose renewing this contract. The ill will generated by these "big brother" installations and the lack of effectiveness should convince council to have these nuisance devices removed.

You can review the remaining open record's request content at the following links:

- Attachment "C" - "Client Summary Report By Location"
- Attachment "E" - "Signal Timing Data"

As the final slide in police department presentation notes "Someone is always watching…"

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Aurora City Council - Term Limits or Term Hiatus

April 11, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Aurora) - "Politicians are like diapers and should be changed often" - Paul Harvey

Not content with the original constitutional limit of two elected terms, in 2005 Aurora City Council convinced voters to approve measure 2B, which initially provided some Aurora City Council members three (4 year) terms. In 2009, Aurora City Council again convinced voters to approve measure 2A, which allowed for all remaining incumbents, Wards and At-Large positions, three (4 year) terms.

Upon further reflection, it appears that voters have approved an unlimited amount of three consecutive (4) year stretches of service for city council, providing they take the required 4 year break between 12 year periods.

As noted in the following presentation by Aurora activist, Duane Senn:


"Aurora's term hiatus for council members is reminiscent of the Roman idea of dignatas. Dignatas was the personal self-worth, the personal prestige, and the personal status that entitled them to be counselor after sitting out a specified number of years. We do not believe that Aurora's voters approved a Term Hiatus when they increased term limits from two terms to three terms."

As Senn noted in his presentation: "We are asking you to amend the Aurora term limit ordinance 2009-30, so it becomes a specific number of terms an elected official can serve; a lifetime term limit [total of 12 years]. "

Several of the public servants who are currently occupying Aurora City Council, have made a lifetime political career of rotating in and out of the mayor and council positions.

Some council members have become adept at gaming the system. This year voters in Aurora will be electing (2) new at-large and (3) new Ward members. We will encourage voters to consider this issue when selecting new council members.

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Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government (CRAG), is a citizens group dedicated to accountability, transparency, and fiscal responsibility in the City of Aurora, Colorado. You can contact us at 720.295.8402, email us at info@cragaurora.com, or visit our web site at cragaurora.com

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Aurora FanFair Purchase - A Plethora of Questions
Aurora Water - Banker to the City

December 13, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Between the details surrounding the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority (AURA) loan from the Aurora Water Department and the estimated cost associated with purchase, site cleanup and demolition, and potential loan interest, the recently approved purchase of the FanFair property by the City of Aurora raises many questions.

Sprinkler head Desperate to find a solution to remove an iconic eyesore in old Aurora, City Council and the Aurora Urban Renewal authority (AURA) have approved a plan to obtain a $4 million dollar loan from the Aurora Water Department Enterprise to purchase the 10.5 acre FanFair property. Link. Highlighting the city's ongoing inability to save any spare cash for unplanned efforts, the city and AURA are going hat in hand to the stand-alone enterprise Aurora Water Department to obtain a loan to buy the property. You can review the December 3rd (preliminary resolution) version and bond debt service schedule here. (Link) AURA plans to either obtain the property as is and clean it up or purchase the property with the building demolished and the site already remediated.

Piggy Bank
The loan and the final amended version of the resolution are conveniently skirting the TABOR component of the state constitution about incurring debt without a vote of the people (Taxpayer Bill of Rights). AURA is using the Aurora Water Department as their own personal piggy bank.

This past year, the Aurora Water Department has made several deals to enhance their cash flows, due to anticipated revenue shortfalls.

Those deals include:
  • Water Sales for Fracking (Link)
  • Water Sales to a Bottling Company (Link)
  • WISE sales to other municipalities (Link)
Apparently Aurora's City Council Members have found a big bag of cash in the Water Department's reserve fund that they can loan to Aurora's Urban Renewal Authority. Aurora Water finds its organization in the bank loan business.

Video segments of the final hearing at the Aurora City Council from December 3rd can be viewed as follows. Our first video link provides an explanation of the resolution (Link ) The second link is a presentation against the action. (Link) The third link is an approved motion to amend the resolution. (Link) The resolution amendment would transfer responsibility for the loan from AURA to the city general fund if the AURA is ever at risk of defaulting on the loan. The term of the loan is for up to 25 years. AURA would only pay interest for the first five years. If the property is not sold, yearly payments (interest & principle) could be shifted to the city general fund, again without a vote of the people.

If for some reason the city cannot sell the property, the payback to the Aurora Water Department would amount to $5.545 million over the 25-year life of the agreement.

In addition to the funding issues, the property appraisal documentation highlights the following issues:

- The appraiser notes ". . . it is our opinion that the cash market value on a fee simple basis of the land as though clean and vacant as of June 25, 2012 was $4,000,000. The "as-is" value of the property including existing improvements is $77,000." "It is important to note that the "vacant and clean" land valuation is based on a hypothetical condition, the use of which might have affected assignment results. The "as-is" valuation is based on adoption of remediation and demolition cost estimates provided to us by the City of Aurora." (Link)
  • Building demolition and estimated cleanup costs:
  • Environmental abatement: Estimated cost including contingencies, is $2.5 million
  • Demolition and removal of the structure following abatement $1.1 million
  • The appraiser goes on to say "Thus, the total estimated cost was $3.6 million to create a clean, vacant site ready for redevelopment. Link Note that this does not include groundwater remediation." (Link)
  • Note! The state is requiring the owner to do additional clean up testing.
  • Results from these tests will be available on December 20th.
  • Purchase agreement (Link)
  • Appraisal notes "No internal inspection of property" (Link)
CRAG is supportive of the effort to clean up and redevelop this site. The path that the public servants at city council have chosen to take, is an affront to the water customers and taxpayers of Aurora. The old adage that "The End Justifies the Means" seems to apply to the city.

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Aurora Schools Tax Hike - Because they are entitled

September 20, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Aurora) - Just four years after Aurora voters generously approved two tax and bond measures (3A & 3B), the Aurora Public School (APS) district is back, asking for yet more of your hard earned money, with measure 3C.

Measure 3A from 2008 increased property taxes by $14.7 million annually, for the following purposes:

Institute programs to decrease the dropout rate (then and now)
Recruit teachers and staff
Expand full day kindergarten
Update instructional technology

Measure 3B from 2008 authorized additional debt to the tune of $215 million, with a repayment cost not to exceed $475 million. This bond measure, funded by a property tax, provided for a laundry list of school construction, repair and technology projects.

With the new measure 3C, APS wants an additional $15 million. Exhibit A

Each year, every APS student is directly provided $8,151.00 in funding from the state, local, federal and other sources. Arapahoe-Adams Funds In 2011, if you include school bonds, federal and other grants, the total funding per student is $10,038.00

The current average total property tax mill levy for APS 28J, which includes the general fund and bond payments, totals 53.919 mills. If this measure passes the new average mill levy will be 62.859 mills. This new tax, dedicated to APS 28J schools, would increase your dedicated school property tax by over 16%.

Currently the majority of all property tax that you pay, goes to the Aurora Public School district 28J. In fact, on average, 66% of your entire property tax bill goes to Aurora Public Schools.

With the ongoing economic recession, state funding for school districts has decreased slightly over the past several years. APS is loath to have to operate on slightly less funds and is going back to the local taxpayers for more money. APS believes that they should not have to give up any of the funding to which they have become accustomed. APS believes they are entitled.

This tax is permanent.
  • Voters have an opportunity to say NO
  • Voters can tell APS to STOP asking for more
  • Voters can tell APS to live with their existing budgets, like Aurora residents do
  • Voters can tell APS to consider decreasing their own compensation, like many Aurora taxpayers have been forced to do over the past several years.
Tell this local government entity that enough is enough. Vote NO on measure 3C.

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2012 Aurora Tax Hike - Extend . . . Pretend . . . Spend

August 28, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

[Aurora] - Election 2012 must be just around the corner. Aurora City Council, by a vote of 9-1 (Berzins voting no), has referred this year's tax hike measure (2B) to the ballot.

Utilizing the annual fall ballot opportunity, the city council has referred a $74 million bond issue on the ballot (up to $135 million total with interest), to fund a plethora of pet transportation projects.

http://www.cragaurora.com/Aurora2012TaxHike.PDF

Two bond issues from 1998 & 2000, which purchased the Alameda/I-225 interchange, public safety, parks and open space, and library projects are due to be paid off by December 2015.

http://www.cragaurora.com/Bond_Issues_1998_and_2000.PDF

Once taxpayers pay off these bonds, the city component of property taxes will be reduced 19%. The majority on the Aurora City Council dislikes the idea of paying off the bonds, and wants taxpayers to keep paying for another 20 years. Yes, they have created this year's forever tax.

For more information on the history of tax mill levy extension, click here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSxSYb2E-c4&feature=youtu.be

The 2012 Aurora tax hike amounts to Extend - Pretend - Spend. Council would extend the property tax, pretend it is not a tax increase and spend the money.

One of the more egregious of the proposed new projects is an approximate 50% contribution of $6,000,000 for a new 900 space parking garage for the RTD facility at Iliff and I-225. Amazing. Residents already pay a 1% RTD sales tax. Why would voters want to double tax themselves, by paying for a new structure that RTD ought to build? The Aurora taxpayer contribution per parking space would be $6700. They will have Cadillac accommodations for the Cadillacs that will park there.

http://www.cragaurora.com/Parking_Garage.PDF

http://www.cragaurora.com/Fifty_Percent_Parking_Garage.PDF

This whole effort will subsidize future developers parking for Transit Oriented Development (TOD).

Many of the potpourri of transportation projects the city wants to fund with this tax increase, reflects the fact that some of the growth occurring in Aurora has not paid for itself. The city is trying to place the burden of these expanded transportation projects on existing residents.

Aurora voters, who have told council year after year that they will not tolerate new taxes, will once again inform their elected public servants to temper their illusions of grandeur, live with the current budget and will vote NO on 2B.

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City of Aurora - "Desperate" for Internet Sale Taxes
June 26, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Aurora, Colorado) - On the heels of moving forward placing a property tax mill levy tax extension on the 2012 ballot, and a proposal to double tax Aurora residents, starting in 2014, to complete the I-225 FasTracks line, the City of Aurora is now lobbying to change law at the federal level to allow for the collection of sales taxes on internet purchases.

ADD TAX to CART As noted in recent Public and Intergovernmental Relations Committee meeting summary notes [Federal Update] the City of Aurora has a large law firm tracking legislation that promotes changes in federal law, to allow for the collection of municipal sales taxes on internet purchases.

As stated in the meeting minutes "H.R. 3179 was introduced and would authorize states to force retailers to collect sales taxes, even online firms, and even when their customers reside in states where the companies have no physical presence."

In addition, the minutes noted that "Mr. Feeley stated that while everyone is desperate to find an appropriate legislative vehicle, it is unlikely that a decision will be made on the bills before the November elections." Also noted in the minutes was the statement "CM Broom indicated that he would place a phone call to Representative Coffman to express our interest and position on the issue."

Watch YouTube Video Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government (CRAG) recently spoke before city council to voice our opposition to this whole scheme. Using retailers as government tax collectors and extracting more money from Aurora voters, seems to currently occupy much of city council's time.

As Aurora residents struggle with their own personal financial issues, the city elected public servants continue to plot ways to remove more tax money from Aurora voters.


http://www.cragaurora.com/Tax_Mill_Levy_Tax_Hike.PDF

http://www.aurorasentinel.com/news/aurora-voters-could-be-asked-to-pay-for-i-225-light-rail/

http://www.cragaurora.com/PIR_Federal_Update.PDF

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ak085nQd50&feature=plcp

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Gaylord's Last Grasp . . . 

April 30, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Stand alone link

Gaylord RTA subsidy hearing: A rare, open, transparent, public testimony.

(Aurora) - Public testimony concluded on April 23rd before the Colorado Economic Development Commission Regional Tourism Authority (RTA) hearing on awarding state sales tax subsidies to two projects which would promote outside/additional tourism in Colorado. After two days of hearings, April 10th and April 23rd, the RTA is scheduled to announce their decision on May 18th.

Related news story (link):
Aurora Sentinal

One of the projects competing for the state sales tax subsidy is Gaylord Entertainment. In June of 2011, the City of Aurora announced with great fanfare, a deal worked out with Gaylord, which would provide hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies for Gaylord to build a hotel/convention center complex in north Aurora.

Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government (CRAG) testified before Aurora City Council in August 2011, highlighting the egregious nature of this Gaylord agreement:

http://cragaurora.com/#Gaylord

Unlike the recently completed RTA public hearings, all the previous Gaylord negotiations were done behind closed doors, with no public input. Government bureaucrats and elected officials worked out all the details and then told taxpayers what their liabilities would be to subsidize this project.

CRAG notes that the RTA hearings were a good example of how the public could be involved in providing input and airing issues related to subsidizing a billion dollar, publicly traded, out-of-state corporation. The City of Aurora's clandestine coup, negotiating this massive subsidy in secret, was an insult to Aurora taxpayers.

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Read news coverage of the Gaylord Entertainment issue here=>
http://yourhub.denverpost.com/aurora/colorado-officials-make-decision-gaylord-deal-aurora/KreS2KHwtc52a3ASntZaRL-story

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Aurora Corporate Welfare – Knows No Bounds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 25, 2011

(Aurora) - On the heels of the recent massive taxpayer giveaway to the Gaylord Entertainment Corporation, the City of Aurora has joined forces with Adams County and the State of Colorado to reward yet another billion dollar corporation with resident tax dollars.

As reported in the local media www.denverpost.com and www.aurorasentinel.com. General Electric's PrimeStar Solar will locate a manufacturing plant in Aurora and receive a total of $28 million dollars in taxpayer subsidies.

Jim Frye, a member of Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government (CRAG) and a local candidate for city council at-large, requested a copy of the agreement from the Aurora City Clerks office. The response he received noted "Just to let you know that the draft document of the City of Aurora/General Electric incentive agreement for locating a solar manufacturing plant document is still being worked on and is currently not a public record. Since it is still being worked on, it is not determined when it will be available for public view."

CRAG finds it interesting that the actual document does not yet exist. It is difficult to determine what the City of Aurora portion of the subsidy will be, where the money will come from and what the ultimate cost to Aurora taxpayers will be.

It appears the City of Aurora will provide subsidies to any and all large corporations that consider Aurora to locate their businesses. CRAG is asking the city why all businesses in the city are not afforded the same breaks that these large corporations receive and why existing businesses and residents have to carry the tax freight for these large corporations. Aurora city government has now become the arbiter, picking and choosing the winners and losers.

As noted in this article from March, abcnews.go.com the General Electric Corporation paid no federal income tax in 2010. We find it ironic that in addition to paying no federal taxes, we have the State of Colorado, Adams County and the City of Aurora providing subsidies to GE.

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Aurora City Council Approves placing
the Forever Tax on this Fall's Ballot

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2011

(Aurora) - Aurora City Council formally referred the second of three new tax increase proposals to the November 1st ballot. The citizen initiated bond issue would do the following:
  • Incur $133 million of capital bond debt to build 3 new recreation centers and renovate a 4th center
  • Initially incur $2.2 million dollars a year in expense debt to fund operations, maintenance, and repair
  • Override TABOR with a clause to automatically increase taxes for operations, adjusted for inflation, for up to 5% per year. This component is the forever tax that can increase yearly, without voter approval.
Consequences of this ballot issue:

(Click here for a copy of the ballot language. Recreation Center Ballot Wording)
  • Current city residential property taxes average approximately 10.5 mills. The combined initial mill levy to support this measure will be 4.58 mills. This one ballot measure will initially raise residential property taxes by 43%.
  • In addition to the cost of building and operating the centers, residents will be charged significant fees to utilize the facilities. (Click here for proposed fee structure. Proposed Rec Fee Schedule). These fees will keep some residents on the outside looking in.
  • Aurora activist Duane Senn recently spoke before Aurora City Council to highlight concerns about this project.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6VFwkWqqkA
  • This tax increase will also significantly impact business property owners, who carry a much higher tax rate burden that residential residents.
  • With Aurora residents struggling to cope with the economic downturn, this hardly seems like the time to saddle them with another significant tax increase for facilities that will only be used by a fraction of the residents.
  • For detailed consequences of this ballot issue, (click here: Detailed Notes)
Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government, or CRAG is a citizens group dedicated to accountability, transparency, and fiscal responsibility in the city of Aurora, Colorado.

For more information visit our web site at http://www.cragaurora.com, email us at info@cragaurora.com, or call us at 720.295.8402.

See Duane's video here!


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Aurora City Council - Gaming the System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2011

(Aurora) - Gaming the system - or as it is known in Aurora - Incentive Agreement By and Among
  • The City of Aurora Colorado
  • Aurora Urban Renewal Authority
  • And Gaylord Entertainment Company
Having had an opportunity to analyze the 130 page "incentive" agreement between the city and Gaylord, along with the 40 page Urban Renewal "blight" document, Citizens For Responsible Aurora Government (CRAG) recently made the following presentation before Aurora City Council.

Highlights of the presentation included:
  • How the city is abusing the Urban Renewal "blighting" law
  • Circumventing the Colorado Constitution on donation of public funds
  • Potentially obligating Aurora taxpayers to debt, without a vote of the people
  • Generating a whole new slew of taxes and taxing areas
Aurora is again attempting to blight raw, undeveloped, agricultural land. After a similar tactic was used by Aurora in 2010, blighting agricultural land for the Lend Lease project, state senator Morgan Carroll sponsored a bill to prohibit this type of abuse of the "blighting" laws. The only problem was that there were several loopholes. The City of Aurora is using one of these loopholes to foster a massive tax giveaway ($300 million) to "incent" Gaylord to locate a hotel and convention center in the City of Aurora.

The particular loophole that the city is using is noted in the state statutes as "No area that has been designated as an urban renewal area shall contain any agricultural land unless each public body that levies an ad valorem property tax on such land agrees in writing to its inclusion within the urban renewal area." Who are these government "bodies?"
  • City of Aurora
  • Adams County
  • Brighton School District
  • Urban Drainage and Flood Control
  • Urban Drainage South Platte
  • Rangeview Library District
  • A new General Improvement District (GID)
Have these entities been contacted? Have they made any decision?

On page 52 and 53 of the incentive agreement, you will find a detailed breakout of the tax giveaways that are part of this proposal. Obtaining a "blight" designation will allow the developer to receive a "Tax Increment Financing" designation. This in turn will allow for the avalanche of tax subsidies. All details are in the incentive agreement. Also, the Aurora City Council is providing a "Moral Obligation Pledge" to secure potential bonds of over $200 million dollars that would be issued by the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority. This was done without a vote of the Aurora taxpayers on this potential debt obligation..

Other taxes noted include "lodger taxes" of 12.6% per day, all going to the developer and new "admission" taxes, again all noted on pages 52 & 53 of the incentive document.

In addition, property owners will be voting on a new General Improvement District and "Enhanced Taxing Area?" You can view a map of the area here.
Map of GID

CRAG encourages development in the City of Aurora - for projects that can be built on their own merits--and not a giant taxpayer subsidy. We urge the affected government "bodies" in this development area to reject this tax giveaway of 25-33 years and send a message to the Aurora City Council that this is no way to do business.

For more information you can contact CRAG at info@cragaurora.com
- 720.295.8402 - cragaurora.com

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=> Media Links:

Denver Post reports on Gaylord
http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_18737218?IADIDM

Channel 7 News quoted C.R.A.G.:
http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/28945953/detail.html

Article in the Denver Post
http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_18737218

Article in the Aurora Sentinel:
www.aurorasentinel.com

Duane Senn interviewed with Peter Boyles on 8/2:
http://www.khow.com
Duane's interview goes from 0:0 –12:26.

Jim Frye interviewed with Liz Lane at KGNU radio, broadcasted on Wednesday, 8/3:
http://www.kgnu.org/morningmag
Click - on Wednesday – August 3rd – Scroll to 16:43 - Jim's interview goes to 22:16.

View media interviews regarding the Gaylord Entertainment Project

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Aurora Mayor Ponders Turning off the TV

July 30, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(Aurora) - Before Citizens For Responsible Aurora Government (CRAG) commenced their second slideshow at the Aurora City Council on July 25th, Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer apparently suggested council consider turning off the TV cameras when citizens come to testify before city council.

As noted by an Aurora Sentinel editorial writer, (http://www.aurorasentinel.com/hp_columnists/article_289c5610-b920-11e0-abb9-001cc4c002e0.html) on July 28th, the mayor was not keen on CRAG testifying before council, using Power Point slides that Aurora voters could view on the local Channel 8 TV. The CRAG presentation on July 25th dealt with the massive taxpayer subsidy for the Gaylord Entertainment complex to be located near DIA.

As noted below, CRAG member, Greg Golyansky, has submitted an open letter to the mayor requesting a response to this alleged attempt to stifle free speech in Aurora.

OPEN LETTER TO HONORABLE ED TAUER, MAYOR OF AURORA, COLORADO.

Your Honor,

On July 28th, an editorial writer with the Aurora Sentinel noted that you recently expressed a desire to put an end to TV coverage for citizens using power point slides while presenting at city council. In fact, the writer implied that this action was directed specifically at the Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government - CRAG.

It was noted that it appeared this suggestion came about because of the critical nature of CRAG calling council to task for its actions on various issues.

CRAG's most recent presentation on the Gaylord affair and our contention that it is "gaming the system" and not "economic development" apparently got your ire.

CRAG thinks these issues ought to be discussed publicly, in an open forum, and not behind closed doors. Taxpayers are the ones footing the bill for the million dollar TV production facilities at Aurora City Council. To deny us access to the same video capabilities as council members would be an abuse of council authority.

Because of the importance of this issue, I have chosen the "Open Letter" venue and will release this letter to the press.

If you choose not to answer my letter or to end the TV coverage of the public comment portion of the City Council meetings your actions will speak volumes in their own right.

Respectfully,

Gregory N. Golyansky - member, Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government

For more info on CRAG contact:
Info@cragaurora.com
720.295.8402
cragaurora.com

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Current Investigations

Aurora City Council
First Salvo of Many Tax Increase Proposals for 2011

July 20, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Aurora) – You know we are approaching election season when the tax increase measures start being approved by Aurora City Council.

The first in an anticipated barrage of tax increase proposals was approved and referred to the ballot by Aurora City Council on July 11th.

This latest tax increase is a repeat variation of a measure that voters rejected in 2009.

The Mission Viejo library General Improvement District (GID) was approved for referral to affected voters, by the council, on a 9-1 vote. Highlights of the measure, which will appear on the November 1st ballot, include:
  • This tax agreement resulted from a lawsuit settlement with the Mission Viejo HOA, challenging the closure of the Mission Viejo library. The city closed this library after the 2009 tax increase proposal was defeated. The settlement allowed the surrounding homeowners to tax themselves twice for a service the city should already be providing.
  • Taxes would once again be funneled to the city general fund and not a special district.
  • To support this one library, the affected property owners would be subjected to:
  • First year increased mill levy of approximately 1.1 mills
  • City of Aurora property taxes increased by 9%
  • All to raise $750,000 per year, for this one library
  • The ballot wording overrides TABOR, automatically raising mill levies to maintain this funding, if assessed property values decline. Voters never get to vote again.
  • Interestingly, the GID boundaries are approximately eleven times larger than the original Mission Viejo development. (Click Here for Map)
  • The city and the HOA arbitrarily selected the large GID boundary.
Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government (CRAG), a local activist group dedicated to transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility, is disappointed but not surprised that the Aurora City Council has again ignored the voters will and placed this measure on the ballot.

Opponent presentations from the public testimony at city council can be viewed in the following 3 minute video clips. CRAG continues to urge the Aurora City Council to end this lack of leadership and start making hard decisions to prioritize where our tax revenues are spent. When council faces a revenue shortfall or perceived shortfall their first knee-jerk reaction is to raise taxes.

YouTube Video link ::: Problems with Mission Viejo tax GID YouTube Video link ::: Mission Viejo GID map YouTube Video link ::: I don't have a dog in this fight - until now YouTube Video link ::: Amazed my property is now in Mission Viejo GID YouTube Video link ::: Double taxed in Mission Viejo GID

Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government, or CRAG is a citizens group dedicated to accountability, transparency, and fiscal responsibility in the city of Aurora, Colorado.

For more information you can contact Jim Frye with CRAG at http://www.cragaurora.com, or call us at 720.295.8402 or email us at info@cragaurora.com.

=> Mission Viejo GID map

Denver Post article:
http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18636321

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