CoHope votes no on Foothills tax increase

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By Vicky Gits

A coalition of South Jeffco homeowner groups voted not to support the 3-mill property tax increase being sought by the Foothills Park and Recreation District in May.

CoHope, or Council of Homeowner Organizations for a Planned Environment, represents 32 homeowner associations and meets monthly at The Peak Rec Center to discuss community concerns.

At a regular meeting Tuesday, April 2, the group voted 17-5 against supporting the rec district’s proposal to raise the property tax from 7.65 mills to 10.65 mills, which is on the ballot in an all-mail election. There were two abstentions.

The CoHope voting group consisted of presidents or representatives of homeowner associations, said Justin Everett, president of the group.

Lori Hoffner, chairman of the board of directors of the rec district, which endorses the tax increase, questioned the significance of the vote.

“Seventeen HOAs is not an accurate count of the HOAs in this area,” Hoffner said. “The representatives may not be an elected member but are individuals that are choosing to attend the meeting. We have been in conversation with 30 HOAs, and to my knowledge there have been only two that are not in support of this. I assure you there are not 17 HOAs against.”

The main issue is financial responsibility, Everett said.

“Why give someone more money if they can’t manage their money?” he said.

The proposed tax hike represents a 40 percent increase, which Everett said is too much, especially for residents who don’t use the facilities.

“Some use the services. Some don’t. But everybody has to pay taxes. The select few that do use the facilities are subsidized by the people that don’t,” Everett said.

“I’m paying $150 a year for something I don’t use. If people aren’t willing to pay and the facilities aren’t being used, maybe you need to cut back,” he said.

Hoffner said the increase is needed to pay for non-revenue-generating facilities, namely parks, trails and open space. “Anybody who steps a foot into a park or walks on a trail is using our facilities,” she said. “These are not generating revenue.”

The facilities that generate revenue in the form of fees, admission charges and rentals represent 70 percent of the district budget. The property tax generates the remaining 30 percent of the budget, which is used mainly to pay for things that don’t generate revenue, Hoffner said.

Everett accused the park district of mismanaging money by allowing Exempla Health to move into The Peak Rec Center and pay remodeling costs without paying rent.

“That’s absolutely not true,” Hoffner said. “They paid for remodeling costs and for their office space. They are also paying rent,” Hoffner said.

Foothills Park and Rec District operates The Edge Ice Arena, the Ridge and Lilley Gulch recreation centers, The Peak Community and Wellness Center, four outdoor swimming pools, the Indoor Sports Arena, Foothills Golf complex, Meadows Golf Course and 69 park sites and greenbelts on 2,410 acres. It also manages six regional trail corridors and park trails totaling more than 31 miles.