Mayor orders inspection of Urban Renewal's financial records

By: DANIEL CHACÓN
February 15, 2012
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photo - Children walk home through the playground of the vacant Ivywild School after being dropped off nearby by a school bus Tuesday afternoon, January 31, 2012. The Ivywild Neighborhood Urban Renewal Plan was approved by City Council in 2011.  Photo by MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE FILE
Children walk home through the playground of the vacant Ivywild School after being dropped off nearby by a school bus Tuesday afternoon, January 31, 2012. The Ivywild Neighborhood Urban Renewal Plan was approved by City Council in 2011. Photo by MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE FILE 

Mayor Steve Bach has ordered an investigation of the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority's financial records.

The mayor announced Wednesday that he directed Chief of Staff Laura Neumann to conduct an inspection of the authority's "financial accounts, records and operating files."

The city said that Bach sent Michael Collins, chairman of the Urban Renewal Authority board, a letter Wednesday requesting the authority's cooperation with the inspection.

The Urban Renewal Authority has been under the mayor's microscope since the agency asked Bach to approve a line of credit to fund its overhead, including employee salaries.

The request was followed by a public blowup at a City Council meeting between Bach and Jim Kin, one of the board members, over the Ivywild renewal project.

At the meeting, the mayor said the authority wanted to take $50,000 a year in fees for 25 years – or $1.25 million total – from the Ivywild project when the construction costs were only $3.2 million.

Kin fired back, saying the mayor didn't have his facts straight.

“It’s embarrassing to us that somebody would comment that our board would attempt to collect a fee in excess of $1 million from any project in the urban renewal system,” Kin said at the time.

“It’s just frankly not true. I don’t know where that number came from,” he said.

Around the same time, the authority acknowledged that it was in default on bonds involving the North Nevada Avenue redevelopment project.

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