Highlands Ranch Metro District looks toward 2014

Priorities outlined as budget process draws near

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As the Highlands Ranch Metro District gears up for 2014 and budget talks loom, staff and directors have been busy outlining goals and priorities for the coming year.

With a projected revenue increase of 4.04 percent, based on a rise in property values, Metro District General Manager Terry Nolan said he hopes to add back some of the positions and services that were eliminated when things plummeted a few years back.

“I am pleased that the revenues have turned the corner and are going to get back up to almost where they were before the economic downturn,” he said. “That should allow us to continue to provide the services that we are used to being able to provide.”

At the top of the priority list for 2014, he said, is the continued evaluation of fire and emergency services contracted with the HRMD, followed by beautification projects for medians of all major roadways in Highlands Ranch in need of attention.

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The Metro District is also participating in a community branding effort with the Highlands Ranch Community Association and Highlands Ranch Chamber of Commerce, and Nolan anticipates Shea Homes will be added to those discussions.

Next on the list, the district anticipates being active in planning discussions surrounding the long-anticipated Wildcat Regional Park. Partners in these discussions will include Douglas County, the HRCA and Castle Pines.

“We are anxious to see where those discussions go,” Nolan said, adding that the district will be evaluating reserve funds set aside for the park and that the county will be leading all discussions on the matter.

Other conversations with the county in 2014 that will be continued include improvements for the Chum Howe House as well as the Highlands Ranch Mansion’s bowling alley, lights and gardens, and the iconic windmill nearby. The county earmarked $985,000 for the Metro District for mansion improvements in 2013.

“We’d also like to expand our programs at the mansion this next year,” Nolan said. “Now that we’ve got it open and have got things running smoothly, we’d like to do more cultural and community-type things there.”

Rounding out the priority list for 2014 are conversations surrounding transportation projects ranging from the RTD Southwest light rail extension to C-470 expansion to traffic signals and roadways within Highlands Ranch, along with the Fly’n B House, which the board voted to renovate during 2013.

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Items being discussed to be funded out of the major repair fund include streetlight replacement, fence replacement and a slew of renovations at Northridge Park.

Other agenda items and topics to be discussed in 2014 will likely include an update of the Highlands Ranch Outdoors Plan, the solidification of an agreement with the HRCA concerning the development, expansion and funding of the Highlands Ranch Senior Triad, and expanded community outreach on behalf of the Metro District.

Long-term objectives remain the early retirement of debt, maintaining of financial strength and existing service levels and the continued study of what the next phase of the community will look like after build-out.

The preliminary 2014 budget will be available for public viewing Oct. 15.

Director seats open in 2014

Five of the seven seats on the Highlands Ranch Metro District board of directors will be up for election May 6, 2014.

None of the incumbents have declared whether they will be running for re-election and no new candidates have filed as of yet. The five open seats with accompanying length of term are as follows:

• Southwest — John Warnick, two years

• Southeast — Allen Dreher, four years

• Northwest — Nick Robinson, four years

• South Central — Carolyn Schierholz, four years

• West Central — Rick Owens, four years