Aurora lawmakers consider mandatory jail for shoplifting, affordable housing grants Monday

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    AURORA | Aurora lawmakers on Monday may finalize legislation punishing thieves convicted of stealing more than $300 from a retail store with no less than three days in jail, among other agenda items.

    The City Council ordinance builds on mandatory minimum sentences introduced earlier this year for motor vehicle theft. Both bills come as the city grapples with a rise in property crimes of around 10% compared to 2021, according to police data.

    Council members voted 6-3 earlier this month to initially approve mandatory minimums for retail theft over $300, with conservatives voting in support and progressives objecting, asking why there was no estimate of how much the change might cost the city. 

    Their objections, which Mayor Mike Coffman said he shared, laid the groundwork for another proposed code change coming to the council for an initial vote Monday.

    The ordinance would task the city manager, currently Jim Twombly, with ensuring all items considered by the City Council include a cost estimate and an explanation of how the estimate was developed and where the needed funds would come from.

    Council members sponsoring an item that was not considered during the city’s budgeting process will also be expected to identify either an equivalent budget cut or source of new revenue, which Coffman, a former congressman, suggested last week as a parallel to Congress’ pay-as-you-go rule.

    Also on Monday, the council will vote for the first time on:

    • Approving a list of affordable housing projects to receive $3.29 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grants.
    • Classifying catalytic converters and converter parts worth $30 or more as “secondhand property” for the purposes of regulating their sale more strictly and deterring thefts.
    • Exercising eminent domain over two properties — one that the city is eyeing for affordable housing, where the owner is requesting eminent domain for tax benefits, and another that is in the way of a proposed water pipeline replacement, where the city has failed to negotiate a deal with the property owner.

    The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. It will be in-person at City Hall and open to the public, and also streamed through the city’s YouTube channel and broadcast on local television channels 8 and 880.

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