Chairman Neville opened the meeting, reviewed the agenda and relinquished the chair to the Ms. Palermo, Vice-chairman. Mr. Neville then left the room.
Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, Schreck – Carolynne White, Jason Dunn
Introductions were made by the Board and the interviewee. Ms. Palermo asked the firm to discuss their availability and why they should be selected as legal counsel for CSURA.
Mr. Dunn reviewed the firm’s background including: office location, history and the type of law that they specialize in including real estate and urban renewal. Mr. Dunn stated that he has been involved with the application and the Resolution for City for Champions. As CSURA’s attorney, he would help with the RTA work that URA will be undertaking. Ms. White explained that she has been involved with urban renewal law for 15 years. She currently oversees the real estate department for the firm. She worked for Colorado Municipal League for many years. She has several other public clients as well as private (developer) clients that work with the cities on urban renewal projects. As the CSURA attorney, she would work closely with CSURA Director but will answer questions by Board members. She explained that the firm will represent the entire Board though not individuals.
Ms. Palermo then directed the board to ask any questions.
Mr. Shriner asked if they were aware of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and URA conflicts with overlapping boundaries in the downtown. Ms. White explained that she is a special counsel to the DDA. There is an existing intergovernmental agreement between the URA and the DDA that defines the tax increment collection procedure. The IGA between the two can be changed if the URA boundaries would change as long as both boards concur. Mr. Shiner asked about the City for Champion issues and if the attorneys were prepared for it. Ms. White said she is prepared and has dealt with URA conflicts in the past including state legislation and has represented CML in several of these. There will be another bill introduced in 2015 by Colorado Counties Inc. trying to change the urban renewal statute. She believes that Urban Renewal is one of the best tools that cities have to redevelop and needs to be preserved. She represents a private lobbying group that is involved with that effort too.
Mr. Bennett inquired as to what services the Board will need to undertake the RTA projects. Mr. Dunn stated that the Authority, as the financing entity, will need several agreements with the 4 entities drafted along with the City over the next 18 months. There may be a lot of legal work in the beginning. It will taper off after that. Mr. Dunn detailed the reporting requirements that the URA will have and will need to make sure that the 4 entities provide the needed information as well. Ms. White noted that if the URA issues debt then there will be additional legal services required from a URA perspective. Mr. Bennett said that the URA has been a focus for attacks on City for Champions and asked how the firm can help with that. Mr. Dunn responded that hiring the same firm that worked on the RTA application makes a lot of sense since they know the requirements. He clarified that his client for the RTA application was actually the Sports Corporation not the City.
Mr. Scoville stated that the scope for C4C will be significant and thought that the firm had extensive experience and knowledge in that area. He asked if the firm would be willing to adjust their costs to fit the budget. Mr. Dunn explained that RTA costs are reimbursable from the state sales increment as spelled out in the Resolution. Ms. White stated that that the firm will manage its costs. Many legal costs are reimbursable from local TIF as well as from developers. They will track costs separately for accounting purposes. The quoted rate in the proposal is discounted already but they will agree to a retainer or fixed fee for each project as necessary. Some tasks can also be completed by other less costly personnel such as associates. As an example she mentioned that open records requests can be handled by an administrative staff person that is trained.
Ms. Hunter asked that in addition to Ms. White acting as our point of contact, how would other staff members fit in. Ms. White noted that there is a need to have people that know CSURA business well. She will attend Board meetings with an assistant (that CSURA will not be charged for). The purpose would be to train others in the firm to be on top of URA matters so they can be used in future meetings. However, Ms. White will always oversee their work.
Mr. Shonkwiler stated that he believed that urban renewal in Colorado Springs has been controversial over the years. CSURA does not have the ability to take on its own projects due to costs and has had to rely on developers that have brought projects forward that they can pay for. He asked how the Board can work closely with the City Administration and Council to address areas in the City needing attention instead. Ms. White said that the URA can be sustainable and not reactive. Many URA’s in Colorado are entirely separate from the City but do maintain close relationships and can draw on City resources as needed. An IGA between City and URA could be developed that would allow the City to provide financial resources and other assistance on projects. Many URA’s have achieved long term sustainability by charging fees to applicants and by sharing financially in the profits of projects being done by Authorities and developers. It is a long term effort to get there.
Mr. Raughton questioned whether the firm had an office in Colorado Springs? Ms. White responded that yes but it isn’t staffed. It is used by Mr. Dunn and Ms. White but no full time staff is maintained there.
Ms. Palermo ended the question and answer session and asked if Ms. White and Mr. Dunn had any closing thoughts? Mr. Dunn mentioned that he had family connections in Colorado Springs and liked working on RTA with the City and would like to remain involved.
Ms. White and Mr. Dunn left the room at the conclusion of the interview.
Ms. Palermo explained that the next steps after the interviews will include deliberation by the Board, a vote in public session or the Board may decide that more information is needed and vote at the regular meeting on 12/17/14.
Mr. Scoville left the meeting.
Mr. Neville was asked to rejoin the meeting.
Kraemer, Kendall, Rupp, Deen, Neville: David Neville
Ms. Palermo asked Mr. Neville to provide an overview of his firm and state why his firm is the best choice to provide legal services for CSURA. She instructed him to describe his availability and how he will work with the Board and Director as a team.
Mr. Neville provided an overview of the firm. There are 5 attorneys that work together and they emphasize developing good relationships with clients, managing client expectations and communicating well. The firm has been in Colorado Springs for 40 years. The firm is a commercial law firm and performs real estate work. They work for small businesses, and do some litigation for them as well. The company uses a collaborative approach between all the attorneys in providing services. The firm is local and Mr. Neville is always available via phone, email, cell phone. Mr. Neville has been practicing for 15 years which includes work for the Hogan and Lovell’s Law firm. He has demonstrated that he can get things done through collaboration with the CSURA Board, City Planning, the Mayor, City Attorney’s Office and City Council. He is involved in the community and so are the other attorneys in the firm. He does not charge for research and education time that may be required. Mr. Neville explained that he has learned urban renewal law through on the job training over his term on the Board. He has visited with other attorneys when necessary to get direction on URA issues. As a result, he has become very interested in urban renewal law. Personally, he has built good relationships with the local officials as well as with the Board members. Mr. Neville has built relationships with business owners and developers in the local community. He has been instrumental in developing various agreements that have been negotiated for urban renewal projects such as Copper Ridge and the RTA.
Ms. Colvert was concerned with community scrutiny of urban renewal and asked if his appointment as legal counsel would be an issue and how would Mr. Neville deal with moving from Board Chairman to legal counsel. Mr. Neville responded by stating that he will resign from the Board if selected. There will be criticism from some people about this. The law firm is also very supportive and sees no conflict. Everything will continue to be done openly and above Board.
Mr. Shriner stated that the DDA and URA have an overlapping relationship in the downtown. The current agreements will need to be changed. He asked if Mr. Neville saw any issues arising from this. Mr. Neville explained that the Authority is already dealing with this issue on Chuck Murphy’s project and that it can be addressed as long as the Authority works with the DDA to modify the current agreement especially if properties change from one authority to the other. It could impact the tax increment gong to the DDA if the SW Downtown boundaries expand or other URA’s are established downtown.
Mr. Bennett asked: What legal services are needed for the RTA project? Mr. Neville explained that CSURA will need to develop 5 agreements with the entities and the City. There will also be reporting obligations that will be time consuming initially but should become routine after a while. A lot of the work will involve accounting functions but not too much legal work. Implementation of the projects may require URA agreements such as redevelopment agreements and cooperation agreements with developers. He noted that Pueblo has not incurred large legal costs. Mr. Bennett inquired as to how the Authority will afford to pay for this work. Mr. Neville said that all the costs will are reimbursable but the Department of Revenue has not established the base or sent any tax increments yet. As the URA attorney, he may need to front end some work and get paid later when the funds are received from the state.
Mr. Raughton mentioned that the firm may have other clients that may have urban renewal business. He wanted to know if there is a conflict. Mr. Neville explained that there are no client conflicts now but that could happen in the future. He will disclose any other relationships that could impact his working on projects if that would occur. Mr. Shonkwiler asked if the firm would take on any business that may pose conflicts with URA business. Mr. Neville thought that this would be less of a problem than it is now since he will not be in a voting position at a Board meeting anymore. Mr. Raughton also inquired if the board would need to hire special counsel if there is a need for more expertise in certain areas? Mr. Neville said that it is a very common practice among attorneys. He feels comfortable with the current level of URA business but would bring in special advisors if necessary. He has called other attorneys such as Paul Benedetti in the past and will continue to call them if needed. It’s a collaborative relationship amongst the URA attorneys in the state. He intends to get involved with CML and DCI to foster those relationships.
Mr. Shriner stated that as chairman Mr. Neville has handled many issues for the Board. He asked if that will continue if he is selected. Mr. Neville replied that he would continue to be involved with the issues with Council and explain the URA law says about proposed actions. He plans to be as proactive as always.
Mr. Shonkwiler stated that he felt that there have been issues in the past between the Authority and City Council and the City Administration. He asked Mr. Neville how the Board could get more out front and address other project areas. Mr. Neville explained that funding is a factor. It is expensive to send out RFP’s and attract developers to areas needing redevelopment and that CSURA lacked resources to do this. He went on to say that all URA’s in the state operate differently and have other revenue sources. For example, Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority owns the convention center and receives revenue from it. The Denver Urban Renewal Authority has affordable housing under its control and receives block grant funding. He felt that CSURA needs to look at other models to find a way to implement City priorities.
Ms. Palermo then stated that the question and answer time was finished and requested that Mr. Neville provide some final thoughts. He stated that if selected, he would change the way the legal counsel addresses the protection of the fiduciary responsibility of the Authority under the law. Agreements need to protect the Board’s interests.
The interview concluded.
Ms. Colvert asked if we were planning to allow public comment. Mr. Rees stated that the policy was to allow public comment at regular meetings but not to have it at special meetings. The Board agreed.
Ms. Palermo stated that the Board would be holding an executive session to determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations. Mr. Neville was excused and left the meeting. Mr. Raughton moved that the Board go into executive session. It was seconded by Ms. Colvert. The motion carried unanimously.
The Board closed the executive session at 1:20 PM. A motion was made by Mr. Bennett to reopen the public session. It was seconded by Mr. Raughton. The motion carried unanimously.
Ms. Palermo stated that the Board would continue discussions at the December 17th meeting and hopefully vote to select legal counsel at that time.
There being no further business, Mr. Bennett moved to conclude the meeting. It was seconded by Ms. Hunter. The motion carried unanimously. The meeting ended at 1:30 PM.
The next regular meeting will be on December 17, 2014.