Five council members rejected that idea last Monday, saying the city's half-cent tax fund for job recruitment can only be spent on new jobs and new employers, not an exhibition hall intended to boost tourism.
Nawrocki, who voted for the loan along with Councilman
"At the time, (then-City Manager)
That ordinance said council has "sole discretion" to decide whether half-cent money can be spent for land acquisition, building infrastructure, and professional services "to establish and facilitate" the creation of primary jobs.
Ironically, Nawrocki was absent from the council meeting where the ordinance was unanimously approved.
At Monday's council meeting, City Attorney
Kogovsek wasn't the city's lawyer when the 2012 ordinance was passed and Nawrocki is asking him to review it and report to council on whether it does permit the PURA loan.
"The difference is that even when we were talking about a Downtown business park, the goal was to put new primary jobs there," Kaufman said Thursday. "We've never broadened the use of the half-cent tax to include tourism."
Nawrocki sent a letter to Kogovsek this week asking for his analysis of several questions, including the 2012 ordinance or whether the city could simply spend half-cent money to build the exhibition center on its own, without loaning it to PURA for that purpose.
The exhibition hall project is closely tied to a state-approved Regional Tourism Act grant that lets Pueblo keep a slice of state sales tax revenue for 50 years on the condition that it build a series of improvements Downtown that begin with the exhibition hall but also include features like an aquatic park.
The dispute isn't just a legal question. If PURA has to issue
Getting a loan from the half-cent fund, on the other hand, would not have any interest cost to PURA. That loan could supposedly be repaid in 10 years from the state sales tax revenues being awarded to Pueblo.
"I'm still hopeful council will reconsider this," Nawrocki said Thursday.
That may be a hard sell.
Reviewing the issue this week,
Yes, council can use it to build buildings and pay for other costs, but only if creating primary jobs are the purpose she said.
"That connectivity is always there," she said.
(c)2014 The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colo.)
Visit The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colo.) at www.chieftain.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services