Colorado Fire Protection District Sues Over Diversion of Funds To Redevelopment Agency

A Colorado fire protection district has filed suit claiming a county is illegally diverting tax revenue from the district to an economic development agency.

South Metro Fire Rescue Fire Protection District filed suit today in Douglas County District Court claiming that Douglas County Assessor Lisa Frizell and Douglas County Treasurer Diane Holbert have been misallocating tax revenue and misapplying Tax Increment Financing laws to benefit the Parker Authority for Reinvestment.

The suit names the Parker Authority for Reinvestment, Frizell, and Holbert as defendants. The legal theory is quite complex. An introduction section to the complaint explains the basis for the suit as follows:

  • This lawsuit involves the improper diversion of tax revenues away from the South Metro Fire Rescue Fire Protection District (the “Fire District”) and to an urban renewal authority known as the Parker Authority for Reinvestment (the “PAR”).
  • Since 2012, the Fire District has been wrongfully deprived of revenue that it needs to provide fire, rescue, and emergency services to its constituents.
  • This improper deprivation of revenue has occurred because the PAR is receiving TIF revenue assessed by the Douglas County Assessor and paid by the Douglas County Treasurer without complying with the requirements of the Colorado Urban Renewal Law, section 31-25-101 et. seq. (the “Act”).
  • The Fire District requests that the Court declare that the PAR’s receipt of TIF revenue is improper under the Act and therefore order that the PAR repay all amounts that were improperly diverted, as well as enter an injunction against the PAR, the Assessor, and the Treasurer halting the continued flow of TIF revenue to the PAR.

South Metro Fire Rescue protects an area of 179 square miles with over 203,500 residents in Douglas and Arapahoe counties. It claims that if the mistakes are not corrected, South Metro Fire Rescue will lose approximately $16 million to Parker Authority for Reinvestment.

Here is a copy of the complaint: SMFR v Parker Authority


About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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