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Artspace set to receive grant funds, Trinidad City Council approves pot ordinance

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — The Trinidad City Council received an update from Artspace during their regular meeting Tuesday evening.

Will Law, Steve Stanley, and Wendy Holmes from Artspace, based in Minnesota, gave an update on the Space to Create Trinidad project. They spoke about the funding that is starting to show up. The project involves three buildings in the 200 block of west Main.

Council had submitted questions to Law, Stanley, and Holmes earlier in the day seeking answers on funding mechanisms, tax credits, and the way forward.

Funding sources coming in from Federal, state, and local sources are accounting for about $3.1 million in tax credits. The tax credits are on a first come first serve basis, and are subject to variability. In the sources of funds there is a line item in the proposed budget for the project for $5.6 million for housing equity low income tax credits.

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) will decide their part of the funding later this month. The council also wanted to know if the tax credits could be sold in the future.

The project itself was projected to cost about $17 million, but it has been reduced to $15.4 million. Funding partners are the City of Trinidad, DOLA, CHFA, the State of Colorado, and private funding from sources such as the Boettcher Foundation.

The city council also heard from several speakers concerning the proposed mill levy increase question that will appear on the November ballot. Leeann Fabec, Jodi Amato, and Anthony Mattie, speaking as private citizens, presented the case to the city council, asking that they support the effort. The ballot measure will ask that the mill levy, county wide, be raised by five percent, bringing the total mill levy for the county to 14.357 mills. A mill is one dollar per thousand dollars. Failure to pass the question will result in shutdowns and layoffs at the county. It will also impact the department of human services, the sheriffs department and jail, along with the various fire districts throughout the county. “In fact any district that receives property tax funding from the county will be hurt if this doesn’t pass,” Amato said.

Tax valuations throughout the county have fallen by around 50 percent between 2010 and 2016. The largest source of tax revenue in the county has been the energy sector that was assessed at $845 million, nearly 73 percent of the county’s revenue, in 2010. Those figures have fallen to $328 million, just 29 percent of the revenue in 2016, a drop of 61 percent in revenues in just six years.

The city passed, on a 7-0 vote, the second reading of an ordinance limiting the number of marijuana plants that can be grown in a residential building. The ordinance makes anything above 12 plants grown in a house, an apartment, or in a residential greenhouse illegal. Before the ordinance, 99 plants could be grown in a residence.

The city council adjourned at 8:39 pm