Special District Working Group
Colorado Springs has established a Working Group that has been tasked with updating the City’s Special District Policy, metropolitan district model service plans, and the model template for business improvement district (BID) operating plan and budgets. The Policy and the model service plans have not been substantially updated since 2006. The Working Group anticipates having its recommendations available for City Council by mid- 2022, after which there will be a public hearing process, prior to Council action. Below is a list of Working Group members and a link to the summary notes from each meeting. Although Working Group meetings are open and advertised, they are not structured to take public comment. Please contact Carl Schueler, Comprehensive Planning Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about this process.
Working Group Information
January 7, 2022
2021 agendas and minutes
About Special Districts
Altogether, Colorado Springs has well over 100 different special financing districts created under Colorado Revised Statutes or City Code. These districts provide financing for public improvements costs and/or are responsible for ongoing services or maintenance of improvements that are not provided by the City, Colorado Springs Utilities of another entity such as a property owners association. The roles and functions of these districts vary significantly depending on the type of district and their individually specified function and purposes. Most, but not all districts levy a property tax mill levy, which may be quite substantial. In almost all cases, districts levy an operational property tax mill levy to offset administrative costs and sometimes to maintain improvements or to provide services. In some cases, districts have a debt service mill levy to service debt that has been issued, or is expected to be issued (most often in the form of bonds). Included below is a link to a summary list of all applicable districts with territory within the City. Links to maps depicting the current boundaries of these district are also found bellow. It should be noted that certain types of specialized district or taxing areas (e.g. school districts, the Pikes Peak Library, and fire districts with territory that remains in the City), are generally not included in these summaries
Special Districts Maps
- Metropolitan and School Districts (map)
- Special Districts and Urban Renewal Areas (map)
- Related Non City Metropolitan Districts (map)
- 2021 Special District List
In 2019 and 2020 City Council conducted seven informal Work Sessions addressing many of aspects of special districts that are relevant to Colorado Springs.
Types of Districts
Metropolitan Districts, Business Improvement Districts and General Improvement Districts
Metropolitan Districts, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and General Improvement Districts (GIDs) are created under Colorado statutory authority and fall under the City’s adopted Special District Policy. Applications are processed by the Comprehensive Planning Division.
A Model Service Plan is required for metropolitan districts. BIDs and GIDs are created via a City-approved Operating Plan.
These Statutorily-created districts are independent entities with potentially broad powers to issue bonds for public improvement costs and, in some cases, maintain and operate facilities. All of Banning Lewis Ranch and many major developments approved within the last decade are included in metropolitan districts.
These districts have independently elected boards of directors. In some cases, they are organized as multiple separate districts to coincide with phases of a project and/or differentiate between residential and commercial areas.
In some cases the multiple districts are managed by a small developer-controlled master district. Metropolitan districts are essentially chartered by a service plan which must be approved by City Council. The City uses a Model Service Plan approach to standardize the content of these plans and their limitations.
A key limitation involves mill levy caps. Ordinarily these are 30 mills for debt service in residential districts and 50 mills in commercial districts.
In either case an additional operational mill levy of not more than 10 mills, may also be imposed. City Council has approved an exceedance of these caps in a few situations.
Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)
BIDs are fairly similar to metropolitan districts, but are limited to non-residential areas. They are subject to an operating plan and budget that must be annually approved by Council. A BID has been established for much of Downtown as well as a number of newer commercial centers mostly in northeast Colorado Springs. BID’s are generally subject to the same mill levy caps as metropolitan districts.
General Improvement Districts (GIDs)
A limited number of GIDs were established in the City mostly in the 1980s. Unlike metropolitan districts and BIDs, City Council acts as their board of directors. Historically, GIDs were established for the sole purpose of financing public improvements. GIDs now technically have the authority to provide ongoing services. However, at this time none provide this function.
Special Improvement Maintenance Districts (SIMDs)
SIMDs are established under City Code (Chapter 19, Article 9) for the purpose of providing ongoing maintenance mostly for arterial streetSimilar in role to arteries in human physiology, arterial streets are high-volume roadways that deliver motorized traffic between urban centers and connect more local streets to highways. They are often classivied as major or minor arterial streets depending on their length or trip and purpose. landscaping and entry features. All existing SIMDs were established between 1979 and 1989. Most impose an ongoing mill levy for this purpose, and unlike metropolitan districts, BIDs or GIDs, they do not issue debt. Currently, SIMDs are managed by the Parks Department. SIMDs cannot issue bonds and the City Council sits as their de- facto, board. For questions or more information, contact Jon Carlson, SIMD Unit Administrator, email@example.com
Local Improvement District (LIDs)
LIDs are authorized in City Code (Chapter 3, Article 5, Part 1) , and are typically created to provide some or all the financing needed to address unique physical infrastructure needs in developed areas of the City. Bonds are paid off via property assessments versus a property tax. LIDs ordinarily have a life of 10 years during which Council sits as their de facto board. LIDs are administered by the City Engineering Division.
Residents or property owners with questions or concerns about a particular special district should normally begin with the designated point of contact for that district. Often, the district will have a designated manager, but sometimes the initial point of contact will be an attorney the developer of a project.
All, general improvement districts (GIDs) and special improvement maintenance districts (SIMDs) are managed by the City staff.
Other sources of information for districts include the El Paso County Assessor’s web site that has information on current tax rates, and contacts.
District Application Process
The City of Colorado Springs routinely processes applications including for creation of new special districts, amended plans for existing districts, and authorizations for districts to formally issue debt.
Included here is the City’s Special District Policy, adopted Model Service Plans for metropolitan districts, and adopted template for initial BID Operating Plan and Budgets and their required annual updates
- Information about the special district application process and fees (see below)
- Information about annual approval process for BOD Operating Plans and Budgets
- Information about required metropolitan district annual reports
For additional information on the special district applications process and to submit and schedule items, please contact:
Effective March 1, 2019, the following fees will be collected for processing the noted special district applications noted below. Payments will continue to be submitted to the City Clerk’s office.
Special District Application Type
New Metro District Service Plan
Amended Metro District Service Plan
New Business Improvement District
Amended Business Improvement District (Off-Cycle)
Inclusion/Exclusion to a Business Improvement District
Authorization of Debt Issuance by District
Other District Creation - GIDs and SIMDs
Special Appointments of Directors
Many properties in Colorado Springs are included in unique special financing districts of different types, especially in newer or redeveloping areas of the City. Altogether, there are about eighty (80) of these districts, although some are inactive. They are ordinarily initiated by the developer of a property, but are approved by City Council.
The purposes of these districts may include financing of public improvements, ongoing maintenance and operations, or a combination. In general, these districts either serve to reimburse the developer for public improvements they are required to provide or to augment public facilities and services which might not otherwise be available to most City residents.
Most districts obtain their revenue via a property tax, although some may also charge fees or collect assessments. Residential districts have an eventual time limit for debt service, but in some cases they may operate more or less in perpetuity to provide maintenance and/or services. Under current City policy, City Council must determine whether proposed district bond issues are compliant with approved district plans, prior to issuance.
Other District Information
Disclosure, Notice and Protections
Because individual districts have the potential for unique features and circumstances, it is advisable to contact either the district representative or the Comprehensive Planning Division for detailed information. Metropolitan districts, BIDs or GIDs should have an approved service or operating plan available.
The service plans include a disclosure form. Annual reports are required to be submitted for metropolitan districts. A County Assessor’s Parcel Search will identify any existing mill levy being assessed for a district, along with contact information for that entity.
However, there are limited cases where a mill levy has yet to be certified, or there is a potential for an increase authorized by a prior vote. In these circumstance the owner or prospective owner should undertake due diligence including being attentive to documents and notices recorded against the property and required to be provided at the closings for property sales.
City Special Districts White Paper
The City Special Districts White Paper describes City districts, some of their key features and related issues. The City’s Special District Policy sets forth general policies and limitations applicable to many of these districts.
Work Sessions (2019-2020)
In late 2019 and in 2020, Council held at total of seven informational work sessions which covered a broad range of special district topics related to the City of Colorado Springs. The content of these background and information sessions was prepared and presented by staff of the Planning & Community Development Department. The City Council cover memos, PowerPoints and attachments for each of these presentations may be found by clicking on each session. Please specifically note that some of these attachments were current as of the time of the presentation, and in some cases updated versions may be available.
Session 1- (September 23, 2019)
Session 2- (October 21, 2019)
- Session 2 Power Point
- Session 2 Council cover memo
- Attachment 1 overview of districts
- Attachment 2 Formation and statutory responsibilities
- Attachment 2 Title 32 Legislative Declaration
- Attachment 4 Metro Districts statutory findings
- Attachment 5 Single district model service plan
- Attachment 6 Special District committee list
- Attachment 7 Special District applications 2009-present
- Attachment 8: Special District application checklists
- Attachment 9 Descriptions and parameters for use and content of Special District submittal items
- Attachment 10 Updated 2019 Special District list
- Attachment 11 Metro Special Districts 2019
- Attachment 12 non Metro Special Districts 2019
Session 3- (November 7, 2019)
- Session 3 PowerPoint
- Session 3 Council cover memo
- Attachment 1 Title 32 legislative declaration
- Attachment 2 Metro district statutory findings
- Attachment 3 Special district committee list
- Attachment 4 Special district applications 2009-present
- Attachment 5 Special district application checklists
- Attachment 6 Descriptions and parameters for use and content of special district submittal items
- Attachment 7 General improvement districts staff overview
Session 4- (November 25, 2019)
Session 5- (December 9, 2019)
Session 6- (January 13, 2020)
Session 7- (August 27, 2020)
- Session 7 PowerPoint
- Session 7 Council cover memo
- Attachment 1 Metro District Mill Levies and Caos
- Attachment 2 BID Mill Levies and Caps
- Attachment 3 Metro District Exhibit E Disclosure Form
- Attachment 4 Example of a Metro. District Tranparancy Notice
- Attachment 5 Overview of Metro. District Conversion to Resident-Owner Control
- Attachment 6 2020 Special District List
- Attachment 7 Metro district contacts July 2020
- Attachment 8 BID Contact Information- July 2020
- Attachment 9 City-wide Metro District Map
- Attachment 10 City-wide Non-Metro District Map