More money more planning

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It was the kind of news most municipalities have not heard in years: There is more money in the city coffers than staff knows what to do with.

But that is exactly the situation that the Golden City Council is dealing with, to the sum of $4 million. The money, mostly from a court decision which forced IBM to pay past-due sales and use tax to the city, has few restrictions, particularly if used for capital improvement projects.

At its March 7 council meeting, the board of seven decided on two pedestrian projects ($400,000) but little else. It scratched a few possibilities off the list, and asked for city staff to further research just how much could be accomplished with the funds.

The items still being considered: Updating at least a few of the city’s playgrounds, rebuilding an updated skate park, improvements or expansion for the community center, and possible study of a Clear Creek Civic Center.

In trying to sum up the majority of the council’s wishes, Mayor Marjorie Sloan asked city staff to research some options in greater detail, while ruling out previously mentioned ideas such as using the funds for paying off city debt, a rooftop solar program or the purchase of open space parkland.

“Not because we think they are bad ideas, but because we think they can be done in different ways,” Sloan said.

The concept of a Civic Center would possibly consolidate Golden City Hall in a new building, along with space for cultural resources like the library, Golden History Museums as well as art and theater space. The idea was brought up at a previous meeting by Ward 4 Councilman Bill Fisher, who suggested the city use the windfall to make a lasting impact on the city.

“Is there an opportunity to take this $4 million and do something real special?” Fisher said.

“It would be a really interesting concept. No, it wouldn’t be cheap,” Bestor said.

According to preliminary staff estimates, the minimum cost for a facility of that size would be around $25 million. The debt on such a facility would require the city to pay $2 million annually, over 20 years. Bestor said a four-tenths of a percent sales tax increase could cover that cost.

Fisher suggested a portion of the $4 million be used to begin preliminary exploration of a Civic Center’s feasibility.

For now, the only certain use of the money will be two pedestrian projects — installation of sidewalks along portions of Colfax Avenue, and the underpass pedestrian and bicycle pathway at Tucker Gulch and Highway 93. Both projects had been on the city’s to-do list for 2014, but were moved up due to community demand.

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