CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4)– South Metro Fire Rescue Fire Protection District filed a lawsuit against Parker for illegally diverting economic development funds.

The fire district claims that the urban renewal authority, Parker Authority for Reinvestment (PAR), is illegally diverting economic development funds that are intended for fire, rescue and emergency services.

“Parker is siphoning off money that is voter approved for fire protection services. People in Parker shouldn’t have to choose between public safety and economic development,” said South Metro Fire Chief Bob Baker in a statement.

“We’ve tried for many years to negotiate an agreement to allow Parker to continue its economic development activities and maintain adequate funding for fire protection, but we’ve hit a wall with Parker and this is our only option at this point,” Chief Baker added.

South Metro Fire Rescue claims that the district has been deprived of more than $300,000 in lost revenue and estimates over the 25-year lifespan of the PAR that it will lose more than $16 million. The lawsuit requests that the court stop the funds from flowing to Parker unless it complies with Colorado law.

“This is money that would go to first responders’ needs like equipment for cardiac arrests, thermal imaging cameras to find people in smoke-filled rooms and ballistic vests in high-risk situations,” said Baker.

At issue are the specific conditions under which an urban renewal authority, in this case Parker, can receive and spend money, like tax increment financing or TIF, under Colorado law. South Metro Fire asserts that Parker is receiving and spending tax money in violation of state law.

The lawsuit also claims that Parker was using TIF to reimburse a private developer for use taxes and excise taxes but state law doesn’t allow for that.

The lawsuit was filed in Douglas County District Court.

Parker Authority for Reinvestment released this statement: On behalf of the Parker Authority for Reinvestment (PAR), we are disappointed and surprised by South Metro Fire Rescue’s actions and inflammatory statements as PAR always has and will continue to operate in compliance with state law.

PAR is not illegally diverting funds from South Metro Fire Rescue. In fact, PAR has no legal obligation to share any increment funds with South Metro and were only in discussions about cooperatively sharing funds as we believe partnerships and collaboration make our community better. PAR was earnestly working to find a solution that would best serve the Parker community.

South Metro is an important partner in making Parker a safe and thriving place to live and we believe that public safety and economic development can successfully work together to keep our community great.

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