Parkway funds released to county

Commissioners doubt recommended refunds to be capped at $11M

Courtesy of the Boulder Daily Camera, Jeremy Papasso
The Board of County Commissioners reviewed the first set of reimbursements for county land donations to the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority for the proposed Jefferson Parkway that will complete the last of the Denver metro beltway.

The Jeffco commissioners reviewed the first round of reimbursements, $2.5 million for the controversial Jefferson Parkway, during staff briefings on Jan. 7.

The discussion is per the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority or JPPHA establishing contract which outlines the Advance and Reimbursement agreement between JPPHA (including Arvada and Broomfield) and Jefferson County. Commissioners combed through 12 items listed for reimbursements but raised their eyebrows at the recommended reimbursement cap at $11 million.

“Right now we’re about $6.2 million contribution wise for reimbursement level between Arvada and Broomfield,” Commissioner Don Rosier said.

“If you include our contribution or reimbursement it only gives us a delta of about $2.2 million, so we’re pushing up against that maximum,” he said. “That may not be a realistic number.”

Kate Newman, deputy county administrator assured commissioners the agreement does not prohibit a modification to the recommended cap. “We have had other costs and I anticipate future costs,” Newman said. “The agreement does allow for amendments so at some point in time we will be adding more and more costs to the agreement for reimbursement.”

In December of last year, JPPHA authorized the reimbursement procedure and organized priority classifications into three parts; right-of-way refunds first, cash second, and in-kind last. The county can receive reimbursements by entering into a concession or through the use of bonds, although currently there are no plans for the use of any bonds or concession agreements have not been met with negotiations at this time.

The open space purchase of Section 16 at $5 million was deemed ineligible for reimbursement. The 640-acre parcel sits along Highway 93 at the southwest corner of the Rocky Flats site. Open Space Funds are used for Open Space purposes, said Ralph Schell, County Administrator. The purchase of right-of-way and associated legal fees does not directly benefit Open Space and is therefore not a legitimate expenditure, he said.

“This property was in our open space master plan and it certainly had open space value to the county,” Newman said.

County administrators went back to commissioners this week to verify the $5 million cut.

“I think it’s positive their getting this stuff memorialized,” Tighe said about the agreement. Future reimbursements include more land acquisitions and the relocation of a visual orientation radar device or VOR that is used to control plane movements coming from the east into DIA. The next round of reimbursements totals an estimated at $10.8 million.

“The financial model that we had been working from kind of contemplated that between the three jurisdictions in total there would be not more than $11 million in reimbursements that were being requested,” Bill Ray, JPPHA interim executive director said. “Ultimately, I as a staff member have the power to recommend but it’s only up to the elected officials who have the power to decide.”

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