DALLAS — Michael Cheroutes, a Denver attorney and expert in public finance, will guide Colorado’s search for new highway funding mechanisms as the first director of its High Performance Transportation Enterprise agency.
Cheroutes served on Gov. Bill Ritter’s blue-ribbon committee on transportation finance, which led to the 2009 passage of the Funding Advancements for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery program, known as FASTER. The same legislation also created HPTE as a government-owned enterprise within the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Cheroutes’ work includes public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects in the U.S. and overseas. He helped develop complex project financings for E-470 Authority’s tollway east of Denver and for Denver International Airport.
Cheroutes, who earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his law degree from Stanford University, helped start the Denver office of the international law firm Hogan & Hartson, now known as Hogan Lovells.
HPTE replaces what was formerly known as the Colorado Tolling Enterprise. It is governed by a seven-member board of directors, composed of members of the Colorado Transportation Commission and governor-appointed representatives of the private sector.
Cheroutes will earn $114,000 in his new position.
At Hogan & Hartson, Cheroutes represented major international investment banking institutions and development companies in their public project finance. He practiced in the firm’s Warsaw office for five years and later worked in its London and Moscow offices, participating in project financings, Eurobond issues, and debt restructurings throughout central and eastern Europe, including Russia. His work includes projects for international financial institutions in Macedonia.
In addition to his work for Denver International Airport, Cheroutes has worked for airports throughout the United States. They include Dulles International and Reagan National airports in the area around Washington, D.C.
He has also helped structure financing for major startup toll roads.
Cheroutes has served on arbitration panels for the NASD and other securities associations.
He has also held positions in state government, including higher education and environmental commissions.
The alternative financing arrangements HPTE will explore under Cheroutes’ leadership include public-private partnerships, operating concession agreements, user-fee-based project financing, and design-build contracting.
Like most states in the Southwest, Colorado is facing declining revenues from traditional fuel taxes as demand for highways and maintenance grows.
The state’s problems could grow much more severe if voters approve ballot initiatives in November prohibiting all state debt, reducing local tax bases, and dropping car registration fees to $10 per vehicle.