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December 12, 2017

Boulder County Adopts 2018 Budget

The 2018 Budget includes a temporary mill levy credit – or decrease in tax rate for the Boulder County portion of property taxes – of 2.117 mills (22.726 mills in 2018 compared to 24.064 mills in 2017)

(Boulder County, Colo.) -- The Boulder County Commissioners have adopted a budget of $426.9 million for 2018, up from an adopted budget of $422.5 million in 2017.

At a public meeting on Dec. 12, Budget Director Bruce Knight and the Board of County Commissioners provided an overview of the key aspects and decisions reflected in the 2018 adopted budget. (Note: the video of the budget meeting will be available on the county's online archive as soon as the system updates.)

“A county budget is commonly referred to as a moral document, which reflects the values of its residents,” said County Commissioner Elise Jones. “Indeed, this adopted budget reflects our community’s ongoing support and commitment to public investment in basic infrastructure and transportation; essential services in the form of food assistance, elderly support, job training, our human safety net, and much more; the protection of our air and water and the conservation of land; the modernization of facilities and systems that promote cost-effective and sustainable practices; and so much more.”

County Commissioner Chair, Deb Gardner, followed by saying, “We greatly appreciate all of the hard work and dedication that has gone into the formation of the 2018 Budget. With the Budget Office’s extra attention this year to transparency and public involvement in how revenues and expenditures are accounted for, county officials and members of the public have been able to see a complete picture of where our revenues are coming from, the limits the county faces, and how and why we’ve made the decisions to fund what we have.”

Gardner added that the Board of County Commissioners is sensitive to rising property values and noted that the 2018 Budget does not collect the full mill levy (tax rate) that the county is eligible to set, and in fact, reduces last year’s mill levy by 2.117 mills. “We work to keep our budgets in line with what most people are telling us they can afford and hopefully we achieved this in the 2018 Budget,” she said.

Revenue highlights for the 2018 Budget:

  • The 2018 Budget includes a temporary mill levy credit –or decrease in tax rate for the Boulder County portion of property taxes–of 2.117 mills (22.726 mills in 2018 compared to 24.064 mills in 2017).
  • Sales and Use Tax revenues, which are limited to expenditures explicitly approved by Boulder County voters, are projected to increase in 2018 by four percent over projected 2017 numbers. This increase is attributed to the continuing strong growth in
    the local economy.
  • $36.2 million in flood recovery reimbursements and grants from state and federal agencies in response
    to the 2013 Flood are projected for next year. These reimbursements will be applied to outstanding flood recovery balances.

Overview and Highlights

While much of the 2018 budget addresses ongoing program and operating expenditures for Boulder County, a notable addition to the budget includes the funding for five additional Sheriff’s positions at the Boulder County Jail. Following recommendations from a staffing consultant, the county commissioners agreed to fund the hiring of four new sergeant positions and one mental health clinical supervisor in 2018, in addition to staffing increases approved in 2017.

“Over the past 30 years, the jail capacity has increased dramatically while the mental health needs of inmates has spiked sharply upward,” said Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle. “We have added capacity by double bunking and in-filling in order to grow from 287 beds when the jail was first built to 560 beds today, but we have fallen behind on staffing. The staffing shortfall has led to a reliance on overtime to manage the housing and movement of these inmates, resulting in an overworked staff and burnout. The hiring of these additional staff will help bring the span of supervision into more realistic proportions, reduce overtime, and increase the effective supervision of the jail.”

Other highlights:

  • The 2018 Capital Expenditure Fund budget of $10.8 million addresses space needs and building conditions. This includes $2.6 million to continue the multi-phase Justice Center Improvement Plan to demolish existing inadequate space and construct a new addition to consolidate space for the District Attorney’s Office. Also included in the 2018 budget is $3 million of funding for the first phase of a Jail Modernization project.
  • Capital Outlay appropriations include $3 million of funding for the planning and implementation of a new Enterprise Resource Planning system, $338,000 for the Pictometry Imagery Project, and $1.3 million for vehicle replacements in order to keep the county’s fleet current and minimize related maintenance costs. The county will also continue the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure at county facilities.
  • The 2018 budget reflects the fifth full year of recovery work from the 2013 Flood. The total flood recovery budget is $42.3 million across all county funds, representing an increase of more than $5.5 million from the 2017 budget. The commissioners also approved extensions for 13.8 existing term FTEs which were set to expire at the end of 2017 that perform duties primarily related to flood recovery efforts.
  • In addition to funding for flood recovery repairs, the Road & Bridge Fund budget contains $17.3 million for the maintenance and rehabilitation of county roads and bridges as well as $4.8 million for dedicated transportation sales tax projects.
  • An additional 18.85 FTEs have been added to the 2018 budget: 6.50 term and 12.35 permanent, including an oil & gas permit specialist, two additional Sheriff’s deputies, a law enforcement technician to support the Sheriff’s body-worn camera program,
    and two new positions in the Parks & Open Space Department.
  • The salary and benefits package for county employees includes a 1.8% unfunded range movement, market adjustments to salaries in selected job classifications, and a merit pool funded at 3%.
  • The 2018 budget will re-appropriate a total of $9.4 million in unexpended 2017 capital budgets for projects such as jail improvements design work ($200,000), flood recovery grants ($6 million), transportation infrastructure ($1 million), and capital grants awarded to non-profits through the Worthy Cause program ($2.2 million).

Commissioners certify county mill levy/property tax rate

The Commissioners certified a 2018 mill levy for the county of 22.726 mills (compared to 24.064 mills in 2017), which is projected to generate property tax revenues of $178,590,811 (up from $165,014,873 in 2017). The adopted levy includes a temporary mill levy credit in the amount of 2.117 mills.

Boulder County's collection of property taxes represents roughly 26 percent of a property owner’s total average property tax bill. Other taxing entities that receive property tax revenues include (from 2017 data): school districts (55%), cities and towns (11%), and “other” fire, water and special districts (8%).