Special Districts

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    New Colorado Springs Special District Policy and Model Plans

    On August 9, 2022,  Colorado Springs City Council adopted a revised Special District Policy along with new model service plans for metropolitan districts and a new model plan for BID (business improvement district) operating plan and budgets. Council adoption followed an extensive Special District Working Group process.  This Policy and the accompanying model plans will apply to all applications for new or amended metropolitan district service plans submitted from this date forward and for all annually adopted BID operating plans and budgets beginning with those submitted for the 2023 budget year. Until and unless they submit a petition to amend their service plans, the new Policy and model plans will not generally apply to previously approved metropolitan districts.  The previous Policy and model plans that continue to apply to these existing metropolitan districts dates primarily from 2006.

    Please contact Carl  Schueler, Comprehensive Planning Manager, carl.schueler@coloradosprings.gov  with any questions about this process.

    Working Group Information

    Working Group Members

      About Special Districts

      Service Plans

      Authorizing documents that are required by Colorado Revised Statutes Title 32 to be approved by City Council prior to the creating any metropolitan district serving territory entirely within city limits.  These documents also establish any additional limits on the authorities of these districts beyond those provided for in Title 32. In addition to limits addressing topics such as mill levy caps or prohibitions or eminent domain, service plans  must also be specifically authorize any ongoing services  the district will provide (e.g. taking care of parks, operating a community center or enforcing covenants).

      Metropolitan Districts

      Special district authorized to be created under Colorado Revised Statutes Title 32.  They are specifically defined as having two or more purposes (e.g. street funding or maintenance and covenant enforcement).  These districts are created via an elections process and have 5-member elected board,  Most metropolitan districts that service property in Colorado Springs are initially set up by developers, with governance eventually transitioning to resident or business owner boards. Most but not all Colorado Springs metropolitan districts ultimately issue debt to repay developers for a share of eligible public improvements expenses.  Many also provide ongoing services and they may own property or facilities serving the district taxpayers. 

      BIDs (Business Improvement Districts)

      Districts that encompass only non-residential property. They are authorized under Colorado Revised Statutes Title 31, but created by City ordinance.  Unlike metropolitan districts, BIDs operate under Operating Plans and Budgets that need to be approved each year by City Council. Most BIDs are initially proposed by developers desiring to develop or redevelop property. With the exception of the Greater Downtown BID, which has a City appointed  board, all other Colorado Springs BIDs  have boards elected from among the eligible owners of property in the districts.

      Special District Working Group Process

      During late 2021 and in 2022, a Mayor appointed  working group assisted staff in discussing and making recommendations on the amendments of the Special District Policy and model district plans that were approved by City Council on August 9, 2022.  A link to agendas and summary notes from that process can be found here.

      BID Operating Plans and Budgets

      These are the documents that govern the operations and budgets of BIDs.  By law an updated version of these documents must be approved each year by Council. The BID Operating Plan and Budget for the coming year is ordinarily approved in October of the previous year.

      Previous Policy and Model Plans

      The versions of the Special District Policy and model district plans that that were in  effect prior to August 9, 2022 may be found here. This prior policy and the prior metropolitan district model service plans continue to be applicable to some metropolitan districts created prior to late 2022.

      General Information

      Altogether, Colorado Springs has well over 100 different special financing districts created under Colorado Revised Statutes or City Code.  These districts provide financing for public improvements costs and/or are responsible for  ongoing services or maintenance of improvements that are  not provided by the City, Colorado Springs Utilities of another entity such as a property owners association.  The roles and functions of these districts vary significantly depending on the type of district and their individually specified function and purposes.  Most, but not all districts levy a property tax mill levy, which may be quite substantial.  In almost all cases, districts levy an operational property tax mill levy to offset administrative costs and sometimes to maintain improvements or to provide services.  In some cases, districts have a debt service mill levy to service debt that has been issued, or is expected to be issued (most often in the form of bonds).  Included below is a link  to a summary list of all applicable districts with territory within the City.  Links to maps depicting the current boundaries of these district are also found bellow.  It should be noted that certain types of specialized district or taxing areas  (e.g. school districts, the Pikes Peak Library, and fire districts with territory that remains in the City),  are generally not included in these summaries

        Special Districts Maps

        In 2019 and 2020 City Council conducted seven informal Work Sessions addressing many of aspects of special districts that are relevant to Colorado Springs. 

        Types of Districts

        Metropolitan Districts, Business Improvement Districts and General Improvement Districts

        Metropolitan Districts, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and General Improvement Districts (GIDs) are created under Colorado statutory authority and fall under the City’s adopted Special District Policy. Applications are processed by the Comprehensive Planning Division.

        A Model Service Plan is required for metropolitan districts. BIDs and GIDs are created via a City-approved Operating Plan.

        Metropolitan Districts

        These Statutorily-created districts are independent entities with potentially broad powers to issue bonds for public improvement costs and, in some cases, maintain and operate facilities. All of Banning Lewis Ranch and many major developments approved within the last decade are included in metropolitan districts.

        These districts have independently elected boards of directors. In some cases, they are organized as multiple separate districts to coincide with phases of a project and/or differentiate between residential and commercial areas.

        In some cases the multiple districts are managed by a small developer-controlled master district. Metropolitan districts are essentially chartered by a service plan which must be approved by City Council. The City uses a Model Service Plan approach to standardize the content of these plans and their limitations.

         A key limitation involves mill levy caps. Ordinarily these are 30 mills for debt service in residential districts and 50 mills in commercial districts.

        In either case an additional operational mill levy of not more than 10 mills, may also be imposed. City Council has approved an exceedance of these caps in a few situations.

        Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)

        BIDs are fairly similar to metropolitan districts, but are limited to non-residential areas. They are subject to an operating plan and budget that must be annually approved by Council. A BID has been established for much of Downtown as well as a number of newer commercial centers mostly in northeast Colorado Springs. BID’s are generally subject to the same mill levy caps as metropolitan districts.

        General Improvement Districts (GIDs)

        Colorado Springs has a total of three remaining GIDs.  City Council acts and convenes separately as their boards of directors. Two of these (Briargate GID- established in 1980 and Market Place at Austin Bluffs – established in 2006) exist solely for the purpose of servicing bonds issued for prior public improvements in those areas.  The other GID (Colorado Springs Briargate GID) was established in 2021 as a new entity to perform the streetscape and related maintenance functions that had been previously

        provided by the Briargate SIMD.  The services related to this particular GID are provided by the City Parks Department.  General questions on GIDs should be directed to the Colorado Springs budget office.  Specific questions regarding the Colorado Springs Briargate GID should be addressed to the Parks Department.

         

        Colorado Springs Budget office contact:

        Tracy Peters, Accounting Manager

         
        Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services contact:

        Eric Becker

        Special Improvement Maintenance Districts (SIMDs)

        SIMDs are established under City Code (Chapter 19, Article 9) for the purpose of providing ongoing maintenance mostly for  landscaping and entry features. All existing SIMDs were established between 1979 and 1989. Most impose an ongoing mill levy for this purpose, and unlike metropolitan districts, BIDs or GIDs, they do not issue debt. Currently, SIMDs are managed by the Parks Department. SIMDs cannot issue bonds and the City Council sits as their de- facto, board. For questions or more information, contact Jon Carlson, SIMD Unit Administrator, jcarlson@springsgov.com

        Local Improvement District (LIDs)

        LIDs are authorized in City Code (Chapter 3, Article 5, Part 1) , and are typically created to provide some or all the financing needed to address unique physical infrastructure needs in developed areas of the City. Bonds are paid off via property assessments versus a property tax. LIDs ordinarily have a life of 10 years during which Council sits as their de facto board. LIDs are administered by the City Engineering Division.

            Contracting Special Districts

            In most cases, the best place to start to find information about or contact existing metropolitan districts or BIDs, is to go to their websites. As of December 31, 2022, the State of Colorado will be requiring most metropolitan districts to maintain websites.  Colorado Springs is additionally including this website requirement for BIDs.  Click below for alphabetical lists of metropolitan districts and BIDs with links to their websites.  In cases where a website has not yet been provided an e-mail or  telephone contact is provided.

            For GIDs (General Improvement Districts) the responsible entity is the City of Colorado Springs Budget Office.

            Contact: Tracy Peters, Accounting Manager

            Finance Administration, Mail Code 230

            30. S. Nevada Avenue

            Colorado Springs, CO

            tracy.peters@coloradosprings.gov

            (719) 385-5280

            District Application Process

            The City of Colorado Springs routinely processes applications including for creation of new special districts, amended plans for existing districts, and authorizations for districts to formally issue debt.

            Included here is the City’s Special District Policy, adopted Model Service Plans for metropolitan districts, and adopted template for initial BID Operating Plan and Budgets and their required annual updates

            • Information about the special district application process and fees (see below)
            • Information about annual approval process for BOD Operating Plans and Budgets 
            • Information about required metropolitan district annual reports

            For additional information on the special district applications process and to submit and schedule items, please contact:

            Carl Schueler, Comprehensive Planning Manager
            (719) 385-5391

            Fees

            Effective March 1, 2019, the following fees will be collected for processing the noted special district applications noted below. Payments will continue to be submitted to the City Clerk’s office.

            Special District Application Type

            Fee

            New Metro District Service Plan

            $            1,100

            Amended Metro District Service Plan

            $            1,000

            New Business Improvement District

            $            1,200

            Amended Business Improvement District (Off-Cycle)

            $            1,100

            Inclusion/Exclusion to a Business Improvement District

            $               800

            Authorization of Debt Issuance by District

            $            1,100

            Other District Creation - GIDs and SIMDs

            $            2,800

             

            Special Appointments of Directors

            $               900

            Many properties in Colorado Springs are included in unique special financing districts of different types, especially in newer or redeveloping areas of the City.  Altogether, there are about eighty (80) of these districts, although some are inactive. They are ordinarily initiated by the developer of a property, but are approved by City Council. 

            The purposes of these districts may include financing of public improvements, ongoing maintenance and operations, or a combination. In general, these districts either serve to reimburse the developer for public improvements they are required to provide or to augment public facilities and services which might not otherwise be available to most City residents.

            Most districts obtain their revenue via a property tax, although some may also charge fees or collect assessments. Residential districts have an eventual time limit for debt service, but in some cases they may operate more or less in perpetuity to provide maintenance and/or services. Under current City policy, City Council must determine whether proposed district bond issues are compliant with approved district plans, prior to issuance.

            Other District Information

            Disclosure, Notice and Protections

            Because individual districts have the potential for unique features and circumstances, it is advisable to contact either the district representative or the Comprehensive Planning Division for detailed information. Metropolitan districts, BIDs or GIDs should have an approved service or operating plan available.

            The service plans include a disclosure form. Annual reports are required to be submitted for metropolitan districts. A County Assessor’s Parcel Search will identify any existing mill levy being assessed for a district, along with contact information for that entity.

            However, there are limited cases where a mill levy has yet to be certified, or there is a potential for an increase authorized by a prior vote. In these circumstance the owner or prospective owner should undertake due diligence including being attentive to documents and notices recorded against the property and required to be provided at the closings for property sales.

            City Special Districts White Paper

            The City Special Districts White Paper describes City districts, some of their key features and related issues. The City’s Special District Policy sets forth general policies and limitations applicable to many of these districts. 

            Work Sessions (2019-2020)

            In late 2019 and in 2020, Council held at total of seven informational work sessions which covered a broad range of special district topics related to the City of Colorado Springs.  The content of these background and information sessions was prepared and presented by staff of the Planning & Community Development Department.  The City Council cover memos, PowerPoints and attachments for each of these presentations may be found by clicking on each session.   Please specifically note that some of these attachments were current as of the time of the presentation, and in some cases updated versions may be available.

            Session 1- (September 23, 2019)

            Session 2- (October 21, 2019) 

            Session 3- (November 7, 2019)

            Session 4- (November 25, 2019) 

            Session 5- (December 9, 2019)

            Session 6- (January 13, 2020)

            Session 7- (August 27, 2020)

            Housing and Building Association-Industry Presentations- September 24, 2020

            Spring Creek General Improvement District Dissolution