Judge throws out Gaylord Rockies Hotel tax vote, Aurora appeals
An Adams County district judge on Tuesday invalidated an election used to boost tax rates within the land set aside for the Gaylord Rockies Hotel, a decision that Aurora quickly filed to appeal.
“The city did not obtain the required voter approval for the tax increases purportedly authorized at that election,” ruled Ted C. Tow III, a judge in the 17th Judicial District.
Aurora filed a notice of appeal within hours of the ruling and said the project to create the state’s largest hotel remains on track.
“We have won on the other five issues,” city attorney Mike Hyman said. “The bottom line is that the Gaylord Rockies project is alive and well.”
Aurora and other area governments have pledged $300 million in local tax incentives to fund the 1,500-room conference hotel near Denver International Airport.
The Colorado Economic Development Commission pledged an additional $81.4 million under the Regional Tourism Act.
State and local incentives, however, have faced separate legal challenges, delaying construction of the hotel.
David Bishop and Regina Thomson filed suit a year ago, claiming that the city of Aurora and its urban renewal authority violated the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, when they created an “enhanced tax area” for the proposed Gaylord site and held an election to boost taxes where only one person was eligible to vote.
Tow, after throwing out three of the initial six claims, also disagreed that the city ordinance that created the enhanced tax area or that the pledge to funnel the additional tax revenues violated TABOR.