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  #11121  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 4:45 PM
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Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
Question: What's to prevent Denver from coming up with their own transit plan with a ticket closer to $2.5 billion?
Someone with a better handle on Colorado law can answer this better than I can. But I *imagine* the answer will fall into one of these 4 categories:
  1. Existing debt cap. These taxes don't pay for the construction directly, they pay to repay bonds that pay for the construction. Denver can only accrue so much debt, and even with additional revenue it may be near what law and/or bond agencies will allow.
  2. Existing TABOR laws, or other state-level restrictions on revenue.
  3. Denver somehow having a less healthy/robust tax base than Nashville for one reason or another (could be wong's sales tax thing, although that's not the only scenario I can imagine)
  4. Nothing; Denver could do it if the voters approved it.
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  #11122  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 5:21 PM
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Originally Posted by wong21fr View Post
Sales tax competition from other municipalities for one and the population of Nashville accounting for 1/3 of the metro versus Denver accounting for 1/4- less ability to move the needle in the metro area. Not saying that it's not possible for Denver to float a sales tax increase to fund a transit measure, and it's probably something that will happen in the next couple of years as the transit plan firms up, but it seems like threading the needle in Denver to ensure that retail stays competitive is harder than in Nashville.
I get that Denver doesn't have the shopping center tax base of some city/counties but I'd think their convention business is a yuge equalizer to that.

Quick check on Nashville and I see that Tennessee's state sales tax is 7% while Colorado's tax is only 2.7%. Nashville's sales tax (before transit vote) is already 9.25% ie a 2.25% city tax. Advantage Denver on this. I don't know if Nashville tourism and convention business is stronger but Denver's sports scene is a plus for Denver.
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  #11123  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 5:41 PM
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Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
I get that Denver doesn't have the shopping center tax base of some city/counties but I'd think their convention business is a yuge equalizer to that.

Quick check on Nashville and I see that Tennessee's state sales tax is 7% while Colorado's tax is only 2.7%. Nashville's sales tax (before transit vote) is already 9.25% ie a 2.25% city tax. Advantage Denver on this. I don't know if Nashville tourism and convention business is stronger but Denver's sports scene is a plus for Denver.
Yes, because we're talking about comparing Nashville to Denver instead of Nashville to Frankville or Denver to Lone Tree.
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  #11124  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 6:17 PM
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Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
MOAR TOD

Evans Station heating up? Developer requests 8-story rezoning
January 29, 2018 by Andrew Kenney/Denverite

What about zoning?
Evans Station Lofts is one of the best looking affordable apartment projects in Denver. It's about time someone else has looked into building out this neighborhood. I'm sure the NIMBYs will come out in droves, but the best thing this new proposal has going for it is that it's on an industrial block surrounded by industrial blocks. It'll be harder for the NIMBYs to cry about shadows and parking when they're not directly across from it.
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  #11125  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 6:39 PM
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Originally Posted by wong21fr View Post
Yes, because we're talking about comparing Nashville to Denver instead of Nashville to Frankville or Denver to Lone Tree.
Sheesh... I still don't get your point. If we're comparing Denver to Nashville then anything outside the boundaries of either is extraneous. Unless you're assuming that more people that live outside of Nashville spend money inside of Nashville as compared to Denver. Btw, Nashville metro area's reported population is 1.8 million while Denver metro is 2.8 million so that wouldn't seem likely.

Correction: Colorado sales tax is actually 2.9% (not 2.7).
Nashville city sales tax of 2.25% is much lower than Denver's 4.75%. But it's alway hard to compare city budgets etc for various reasons. Does Nashville get a nice allocation from the state for example?

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Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
Someone with a better handle on Colorado law can answer this better than I can. But I *imagine* the answer will fall into one of these 4 categories:
  1. Existing debt cap. These taxes don't pay for the construction directly, they pay to repay bonds that pay for the construction. Denver can only accrue so much debt, and even with additional revenue it may be near what law and/or bond agencies will allow.
  2. Nothing; Denver could do it if the voters approved it.
I don't think Denver has any statutory limit on debt. Currently Denver is rated AAA by all three rating agencies. So long as dedicated revenue was approved by voters that takes care of TABOR and presumably the rating agencies

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Evans Station Lofts is one of the best looking affordable apartment projects in Denver.
Yup
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  #11126  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 7:18 PM
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A simple questionQuestion: What's to prevent Denver from coming up with their own transit plan with a ticket closer to $2.5 billion?
What are we talking about doing specifically?
Let's chat about that.

Pretty easy to figure.
  • We absolutely need to build some light rail and the downtown subway. For savings, light rail can be limited to: from the Civic Center down So Broadway to the I-25 Station and also along Speer Blvd to about Colorado Blvd.
  • Wong's I-25 and Broadway transit center (ofc)
  • Varying amounts of enhanced bus service along Federal Blvd with some amount of centerline dedicated lanes PLUS green streets improvements.
  • Varying amounts of enhanced bus serviced along East Hampden Ave to maybe E Dartmouth Ave with dedicated centerline bus lanes between Monaco Pkwy and Tamarac Dr. PLUS green streets improvements
  • Better bus service in neighborhoods like Montbello
  • To keep the Streetsblog crowd smiling a nice pot for sidewalks and bike lanes.
That's a good start. I figure the subway and light rail to cost ~$1.5 billion in 2018 $'s. As with every city if matching FTA funds can be obtained that's yuge. Good quick look that provides the sizzle, transit improvements for West Denver, SE Denver and NE Denver and I didn't forget the urban-obsessed (I tease). Presumably some money needs to be allocated for operating expenses too.
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  #11127  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 7:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
Someone with a better handle on Colorado law can answer this better than I can. But I *imagine* the answer will fall into one of these 4 categories:
  1. Existing debt cap. These taxes don't pay for the construction directly, they pay to repay bonds that pay for the construction. Denver can only accrue so much debt, and even with additional revenue it may be near what law and/or bond agencies will allow.
  2. Existing TABOR laws, or other state-level restrictions on revenue.
These are really the same thing. Denver could not issue debt for this at all currently. Would need to go to the voters.

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Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
Someone with a better handle on Colorado law can answer this better than I can. But I *imagine* the answer will fall into one of these 4 categories:
  1. Denver somehow having a less healthy/robust tax base than Nashville for one reason or another (could be wong's sales tax thing, although that's not the only scenario I can imagine)
  2. Nothing; Denver could do it if the voters approved it.
These are also the same thing. The difference is that while Nashville's plan is city-focused, the tax would still be regional. So we're comparing a pay-in area of roughly 1.8 million in Nashville, to Denver's 600k.

$2.5 billion is just a hard number to get to. That's roughly $150 million per year in debt service.

By comparison, the City's current debt service is (total) ~$90 million. The City's total capital improvement fund is ~$34 million. Total sales and use tax revenues to the City are about $670 million per year. It's just a very big number for Denver. You're not talking an inconsequential tax increase.

If you did it with property taxes, the total general fund contribution from property taxes is $175 million. So by my back of the napkin, you'd need a roughly 8.5 mil increase, or about 11% on a total Denver property tax bill. Probably you blend that with a sales tax increase, but any way you cut it, it's real money.
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  #11128  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 8:27 PM
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Why isn't Denver pursuing a plan like Nashville's? Firstly, the city IS studying how to deal with transit and just because they haven't released anything yet does not mean that nothing is happening. The politics aren't simple and it will be a hard sell to the voters, just like Nashville. Nashville's plan is still just a ballot measure, and for all we know their ambitious ideas will end up being a big nothingburger.

Unlike Nashville we have an existing rail transit system - convincing people to create one from scratch is much easier than convincing them that the current one is inadequate and needs to be expanded. You need to convince people in SW Denver that they should take on debt to build an expansion to a rail line that doesn't serve them and you need to convince people in Wash Park to build onto a system that is serving them adequately.

And then you need to measure how much you want to work with RTD - presumably you'll want them running the lines or at least to integrate with their services. They'd probably be open to the city funding expansion, but may have requirements or suggestions to where the lines go that may be totally different from where the city wants them. Ironing this out is easier if you're starting from scratch like Nashville. It could be months of discussion before you can even get to the point of asking the voters for funding.
For example - you want light rail down Speer? Is RTD ok with that? Where is it going to connect? Do existing lines need to be re-scheduled? What is the final route? Is the city footing the bill for all this research and planning? Is RTD? What happens if RTD says it can't connect to their lines and none of the stations have room nearby? Do you build a separate and disconnected line?
What happens if RTD doesn't want to play with your plan? What if they have plans of their own that they want to pursue taxpayer money for?

And then you need to package it and sell it to Denver voters - a billion dollars for a subway with no additional reasoning sells on this forum, but might not when put to voters. Will it ease congestion? Who does it serve? Once again, why should someone in Bear Valley or West Highland pay for a subway downtown? People on here talk about Denver needing a subway because it would be cool, not because we've discussed how it would fulfill any actual transportation need that couldn't be met by a different mode. All it would take to sink this would be a counter campaign (like the anti I-70 one) claiming that there is a cheaper/less polluting/more equal option. If you want to sell your subway, you need to spend some money coming up with counter arguments when some NIMBY says that a dedicated timed bus lane on 17th/18th will run almost as fast for 1/10th the cost.

Once you've done all these things then maybe you can come to the voters with your tax plan. Oh, and make sure the mayor and city council are on board. This probably wouldn't happen in a mayoral election year, so 2019 is out. The presidential election year of 2020 would probably be a good time to try (and this timing alone may explain why you aren't seeing this in front of the voters right now)
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  #11129  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 8:29 PM
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Originally Posted by bunt_q View Post
$2.5 billion is just a hard number to get to. That's roughly $150 million per year in debt service.

By comparison, the City's current debt service is (total) ~$90 million. The City's total capital improvement fund is ~$34 million. Total sales and use tax revenues to the City are about $670 million per year. It's just a very big number for Denver. You're not talking an inconsequential tax increase.

If you did it with property taxes, the total general fund contribution from property taxes is $175 million. So by my back of the napkin, you'd need a roughly 8.5 mil increase, or about 11% on a total Denver property tax bill. Probably you blend that with a sales tax increase, but any way you cut it, it's real money.
Yeah, and seeing these numbers, it probably isn't happening...
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  #11130  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 8:41 PM
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Maybe RTD and the City could do a combined effort where the city pays operations cost and RTD pays capital costs. This could work very well with supplementary bus service. It's how my city restored and expanded service during the downturn.
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  #11131  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 9:23 PM
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Maybe RTD and the City could do a combined effort where the city pays operations cost and RTD pays capital costs. This could work very well with supplementary bus service. It's how my city restored and expanded service during the downturn.
RTD has zero dollars for capital improvements beyond the choo-choo's. They're tapped out. Anything that Denver wants to do is going to have to come from city funding and whatever we can scrape together from the feds (which might not be that much).
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  #11132  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 9:38 PM
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These are also the same thing. The difference is that while Nashville's plan is city-focused, the tax would still be regional.
Actually no, I stated earlier that Davidson county (whose voters must approve) and Nashville are one and the same. It won't apply or be built outside of Nashville.

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Originally Posted by bunt_q View Post
$2.5 billion is just a hard number to get to. That's roughly $150 million per year in debt service.

If you did it with property taxes, the total general fund contribution from property taxes is $175 million. So by my back of the napkin, you'd need a roughly 8.5 mil increase, or about 11% on a total Denver property tax bill. Probably you blend that with a sales tax increase, but any way you cut it, it's real money.
Blending is what I had guessed. Another novel additive would be to tax people who park in the core area including at Mile High. Wouldn't want to discourage those attending cultural or sporting events but something like $2 per car would be easy.
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  #11133  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 9:38 PM
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Sheesh... I still don't get your point. If we're comparing Denver to Nashville then anything outside the boundaries of either is extraneous. Unless you're assuming that more people that live outside of Nashville spend money inside of Nashville as compared to Denver. Btw, Nashville metro area's reported population is 1.8 million while Denver metro is 2.8 million so that wouldn't seem likely.
I'm thinking about the competition between the different local municipalities in pursuit of sales tax dollars. It looks like Nashville, being a larger player in their metro, has more leverage in increasing sales tax rates versus Denver. And yes, I am assuming that both Denver and Nashville are net sales tax gainers due to being cultural and entertainment centers for both metros. But, I think that Denver's being the center doesn't carry as much weight as in Nashville. A sales tax increase of a .5% would have far more impact, negatively, and is thus a lot less attractive of a funding mechanism than in Nashville.
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  #11134  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 9:50 PM
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Originally Posted by mhays View Post
Maybe RTD and the City could do a combined effort where the city pays operations cost and RTD pays capital costs. This could work very well with supplementary bus service. It's how my city restored and expanded service during the downturn.
My first choice would be a healthy metro-wide transportation plan that would provide Big $'s to RTD. Then any specific Denver buy-in would be much less.


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Originally Posted by mojiferous View Post
Where is it going to connect?

a billion dollars for a subway
I have it connecting at I-25 and Broadway.

RTD doesn't care what Denver chooses to do on it's own. They'd be happy to cooperate although funding help from them is currently not available.

Nashville estimates almost a $billion for 1.8 miles of subway. I believe that between DUS and the Civic Center would be about 1 mile so closer to say $600 million in costs.
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  #11135  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 9:59 PM
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I'm thinking about the competition between the different local municipalities in pursuit of sales tax dollars. It looks like Nashville, being a larger player in their metro, has more leverage in increasing sales tax rates versus Denver. And yes, I am assuming that both Denver and Nashville are net sales tax gainers due to being cultural and entertainment centers for both metros. But, I think that Denver's being the center doesn't carry as much weight as in Nashville. A sales tax increase of a .5% would have far more impact, negatively, and is thus a lot less attractive of a funding mechanism than in Nashville.
Close enough except for the sales tax amounts. Since Nashville residents already pay 9.25% sales tax a half-cent increase takes them to 9.75%. A half-cent increase for Denver residents takes them to 8.15%. How is that a heavier lift than Nashville?
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  #11136  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 10:28 PM
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but any way you cut it, it's real money.
I just want to know when you're breaking ground? Any idea when the judge rules on the one remaining case about environmental crap.

mojiferous... I suspect partly what you're alluding to is the issue that Denver already pays into Fastracks which I'd acknowledge might give Denver voters pause.

I just decided to consider that if Nashville which is the same size as Denver could come up with $5.2 billion for transit within Nashville then maybe Denver could come up with $2.5 billion to fill in the holes that RTD wasn't able to address. I agree with Cirrus generally that urban lines are better than suburb to city lines that use public ROW. It doesn't lead me to believe that Fastracks was a bad idea however as I've already articulated. But Phoenix and Minneapolis are poster children for the benefits of an urban line. In other words, it's what's left undone within Denver that the city could take responsibility for and I'm including Denver Moves.
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  #11137  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
My first choice would be a healthy metro-wide transportation plan that would provide Big $'s to RTD. Then any specific Denver buy-in would be much less.



I have it connecting at I-25 and Broadway.

RTD doesn't care what Denver chooses to do on it's own. They'd be happy to cooperate although funding help from them is currently not available.

Nashville estimates almost a $billion for 1.8 miles of subway. I believe that between DUS and the Civic Center would be about 1 mile so closer to say $600 million in costs.
Can you, or someone who's also discussed the DUS to CC tunnel, help me understand why that 1 mile segment would be our choice for underground construction in Denver rather than, say, a DUS and Cherry Creek connection via cut and cover on Speer?
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  #11138  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 10:43 PM
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Can you, or someone who's also discussed the DUS to CC tunnel, help me understand why that 1 mile segment would be our choice for underground construction in Denver rather than, say, a DUS and Cherry Creek connection via cut and cover on Speer?
I'll let the experts or those more familiar provide better explanations. I assume it's all about density - of riders and need. The distance to Cherry Creek would make the cost more than Denver could possibly justify either to voters or to the FTA in seeking matching grants I would guess. Besides, I like the idea fine of light rail for that distance.
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  #11139  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2018, 11:08 PM
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Can you, or someone who's also discussed the DUS to CC tunnel, help me understand why that 1 mile segment would be our choice for underground construction in Denver rather than, say, a DUS and Cherry Creek connection via cut and cover on Speer?
Ridership. Speer is a pimple on the ass of the ridership along the 16th St Mall, and that’s not including the lines that travel down 15th and 17th.
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  #11140  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2018, 12:48 AM
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Ridership. Speer is a pimple on the ass of the ridership along the 16th St Mall, and that’s not including the lines that travel down 15th and 17th.
This - RTD also funnels all of its express routes in the morning and evening through either Civic Center or Union Station depending on where you're coming from. The Mall shuttle therefore also serves as a half-assed last mile solution and very probably a large impediment to many folks who work downtown from using transit. The vast majority I work with downtown won't go anywhere near the mall ride. No one wants to tack on another 20-25 minutes after their bus ride just to get to work. It's slow and unreliable - you can often walk faster.
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