DENVER -- Voters in Denver gave the green light Tuesday night to Measure 2C, which implements a permanent tax hike to overhaul the National Western Complex, but that's not all that's included.
Seven other projects are also included. Among them, a cleanup of the South Platte River, a new riverfront recreation area, neighborhood improvements in Globeville and Swansea, new cultural arts facilities, a year-round farmers market, and the construction of several CSU buildings on the National Western Complex.
"This vote yesterday was historic," Denver Chief Financial Officer Cary Kennedy said.
But some still have big concerns with 2C. Mike Krause is one of them.
“Here’s the essence of the problem. There’s one stream of revenue, this tourism tax,” he said. “So what happens if the tourism tax isn’t enough to pay for all of these pet projects?”
The projects will mostly be funded through an extension of the city’s tax on hotels and rental cars. It was set to expire in 2023, but voters Tuesday night made it permanent. That accounts for 80 percent of the funding. The city still has to come up with the other 20 percent.
“We'll be doing a lot of work to close that gap. We've been very transparent we have that financing gap,” Kennedy said.
But Krause is not convinced, arguing the city has too many projects under one umbrella, with no definitive financing plan should unexpected costs start to pile up.
“I see this as ready, fire, then aim,” Krause said.
Kennedy argues the city still has time to secure the financing. Construction at the National Western Complex and the Colorado Convention Center won’t begin for several years until preliminary work such as site planning and environmental permits are complete and secured.