Saturday, September 11, 2010


A candid interview with Brighton City Manager, Manuel Esquibel.
By Karl Emmerich

In the News.
• The Impact of Ballot Issues 60, 61, & 101 on City Government.
It’s been said that if ballot issues 60, 61, and 101 get voter approval, the face of city government in Colorado will change dramatically. Having issued their own official statement, the City of Brighton’s position is clearly in opposition. The measures would expectedly curtail capital spending on city infrastructure and major improvements. And as City Manager, Manuel Esquibel approaches Council with the 2011 Fiscal Budget, there are clearly a few (pivotal) points he’s ready to make:

“The 2011 Budget presented on September 28th will reflect the measures not being in place. But subsequent to the Council’s adoption of the budget in the last week of October [October 26th], we would be faced with a number of adjustments if these measures pass…”

The adjustments being referred to include a drop in employee levels, capital spending projects, and accordingly, city services. Revenue sources for the City would decrease with the passage of 101, and Proposition 60 would have apparently, equal deleterious effects on the Brighton economy:

“60 would heavily impact local utilities along with BURA (Brighton Urban Renewal Authority), requiring these entities to pay property taxes. The resultant effect of this would be an increase in local utility fees. We have figured that they would need to offset an increase of about $2 million dollars in property taxes with rate increases…”

• Jobs & Brighton – what does the future hold for this marriage?
The City of Brighton’s strategic emphasis on securing jobs has historically been a blend of sourcing new employers and helping existing employers grow. More specifically, the public-private partnership, BEDC (“Brighton Economic Development Corporation”) has worked as a recruiting mechanism for bringing new business into the city – such as its mega success with the wind energy giant, Vestas. And while BEDC recruited, the city’s commitment to retain existing employers became the reciprocal effort of BURA (“Brighton Urban Renewal Authority”) to refurbish and lease facilities like the old Platte Valley Medical Center and entice existing businesses to stay in Brighton (such as with its downtown business initiative which provided new parks, road access, parking, and building facades).

But Brighton’s newest push toward a fully-sustainable job economy is really an effort to become “full service” when it comes to attracting and retaining new employers. “The Office of Community Development and Economic Resources” is the newest blend of city agencies charged with the task. The new department is headed by newly-appointed Assistant City Manager, Ray Gonzales and includes former independent agencies and departments including: Youth Services, Special Events, BEDC, and BURA.

“Our goal is to better nurture prospects—the number of which is now up to 80-plus…Retail and job creation are our targets and the cooperative efforts of these groups will best be able to take care of their needs. BEDC under Ray Gonzales will lead the way in recruiting companies but the other groups will assist in servicing their needs…”

• Economic Development in Commerce City – can Brighton lend a hand?
To the chagrin of many northern Commerce City residents, their neighbor to the north appears to have taken the lion’s share of economic development And while northern Commerce City (96th to 120th) has grown residentially, it severely lags Brighton in retail growth and economic development.

Our plea to Brighton to help economically develop Commerce City isn’t entirely wishful thinking. In fact, a 30-year IGA (“Intergovernmental Agreement”) between Brighton and Commerce City actually was reduced to ink in 1989, and stipulates “…joint planning, development referral, and revenue sharing…”

Because Brighton meets Commerce City at 120th, prior water sharing, law enforcement, and even tax revenue agreements were enacted in this zone. But reflecting the hopeful sentiments of South-of-the-Border residents like me, I thought I’d push the boundaries of translation, too. So I asked Manuel if “development referral and revenue sharing” just might mean that Brighton could help bring Sunflower Markets to Reunion:

“Brighton has and will continue working with Commerce City on mutual growth issues. When it comes to economic development, the influence of Adams County also plays a factor… Sure, there could be employers and businesses that would jointly benefit from a position between Commerce City and Brighton, whether from employment or retail interests. But such a joint planning relationship between Commerce City and Brighton might also come at the request or assistance of ACED (“Adams County Economic Development”), too…”

• Back to the Election – is Brighton “officially” supporting 27J School District’s ballot bid for a mil levy override?

“Brighton hasn’t yet endorsed 27J’s ballot issue… but we have asked the Superintendent of Schools [Dr. Rod Blunck] to present before Council. A decision to endorse this will depend on Council…”