December 11, 2023
Boulder County Adopts $653 Million Budget for 2024
Commissioners To Limit Revenue Growth From Property Tax
Boulder County, Colo. -- At a public meeting last Tuesday (Dec. 5), the Boulder County Commissioners adopted a budget of $653 million for 2024. The public meeting was the culmination of the county’s budget process, which included a public comment period and public hearing.
During the 6-month budget process, the commissioners worked with the county’s finance team, elected officials, and department heads to create a budget that balances the needs of the community, the impacts of inflation, and concerns from residents about this year’s rise in property values.
During Tuesday’s public meeting, Chief Financial Officer Ramona Farineau provided an overview of the key aspects and decisions reflected in the adopted budget. The budget resolutions and a recording of the public meeting are available on the county’s website.
“The Boulder County Commissioners speak regularly with residents, who reiterate what we are hearing from county staff and local non-profits, which is a concern about the rising cost of living,” said Commissioner Claire Levy. “We have worked tirelessly over the last half year to develop a budget that serves our community while limiting the growth in tax bills, which is why we are keeping revenue growth from property tax to 5.5%. The Boulder County Government is committed to delivering essential services and meeting the needs of our community, which is why we increased our support for the Boulder County Housing Authority, Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, and Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement (HOPE)”.
“In November, Boulder County voters showed their support for housing access and affordability when they overwhelmingly passed the county’s Affordable & Attainable Housing ballot measure,” said Commissioner Marta Loachamin. “Our strategic priorities also include housing access and affordability, which is reflected in our budget priorities. Another strategic priority of Good Governance includes racial equity and inclusive community engagement, which is why are excited to be moving forward with funding to support the county moving from land acknowledgement to meaningful action in partnership with Native American and American Indian communities in early 2024. We look forward to working with the community to develop this program.”
“We are committed to relentlessly championing a transition to clean, electric transportation,” said Commissioner Ashley Stolzmann. “In the county’s 2024 budget, we have taken action towards this commitment by ensuring that replacement vehicles purchased by the county will be 100% electric. The obvious environmental benefits, the growing selection of fully electric cars, trucks, and vans, and the significant federal and state funding makes this the right choice for Boulder County.”
Mill Levy and Property Tax
The county calculates, collects, and distributes tax on behalf of 135 different taxing entities. The Boulder County Government’s budget receives about a quarter of the property tax collected.
Every two years the Assessor’s Office is required by the State of Colorado to assess the value of all residential and commercial properties. The latest property valuations were sent to property owners in May, and revealed that, using the formula required by the state, residential property values increased by 35% on average.
Since May, the commissioners have worked to develop a budget that limits the increase in the county’s revenue from property taxes, culminating in a decision to limit revenue growth to 5.5%.
Boulder County will be holding a business meeting before the state’s January 10, 2024, deadline to certify the Boulder County Government’s mill levy.
Sign up to receive the commissioners’ Advance Agenda for meeting details. Business meetings can be attended online, by phone, or in-person, but there is no opportunity for public comment.
The Boulder County Treasurer’s Office will calculate property tax using the mill levies from all taxing entities and send out property tax notices in late January.
Overview and Highlights
While much of the 2024 budget addresses ongoing program and operating expenditures for Boulder County, the following are notable additions or one-time expenditures:
- Boulder County will provide additional support in the amount of $8,996,419 to the Boulder Housing Authority related to operational support, capital improvements, predevelopment for Willoughby Corner and general use.
- The budget was increased by $900,000 to provide additional financial support to the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, and $300,000 to the Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement (HOPE).
- Funding in the amount of $2,095,069 was approved to purchase electric vehicles for Boulder County. This includes vehicles for the general fleet, the Sheriff’s Office and Housing and Human Services.
- A one-time budget increase was approved for $1,567,899 to cover the expenses related to the 2024 presidential election for the Clerk and Recorder’s
- The Road & Bridge Fund budget contains a budget of $5,937,228 for the maintenance and rehabilitation of county roads and bridges as well as $8,814,571 for continued work on dedicated transportation sales tax projects.
- In order to ensure a balanced budget in the General Fund, the Commissioners approved one-time transfers of legally allowable expenses from the General Fund to the Sales Tax Funds. This includes an $11,750,000 transfer from the Parks and Open Space fund, a $619,004 transfer from the Sustainability Sales Tax fund, and a $432,885 transfer from the Wildfire Mitigation Sales Tax fund.
- An additional 36 new FTEs were approved in the budget as well as 28 positions for the Sheriff’s Office and the Housing and Human Services Department to be filled within their respective personnel budgets. This will assist with the continued challenge of heavy staffing turn over for these teams.
- The approved salary and benefits package for county employees includes a flat rate pay increase of $220 a month for all employees and a 2% merit pool for each office and department. A $1,000,000 budget was established to fund enhancements to the existing bilingual pay program and develop a pay program for cultural brokers.
Revenue Highlights for the 2024 Budget
- The Boulder County Commissioners will limit all general use property tax growth to 5.5%. Additional revenue will be collected for new construction and abatements, but these figures are not yet available to the Office of Financial Management for budgeting purposes.
- The Boulder County Commissioners provided guidance to apply a temporary mill levy credit to the Developmental Disabilities Fund to achieve a net mill levy rate that produces property tax revenue growth of 5.5%, plus new construction and abatements.
- In prior years the Health and Human Services Mill Levy was composed of a .500 voter approved mill levy, and an additional portion of the county's general use discretionary mill levy. This tax mill levy rate will be less than the allowed amount, but an exact amount will not be determined until the Office of Financial Management receives the final assessment data.
- In order to make additional funds available for contracts with community nonprofits, the Boulder County Commissioners provided guidance to apply a temporary mill levy credit for the Human Services Safety Net mill levy to achieve a net mill levy rate that produces property tax revenue growth of 10%, plus new construction and abatements for fiscal year 2024. In fiscal year 2025, the temporary mill levy credit will be adjusted to achieve a net mill levy rate that produces property tax revenue growth of 15%, plus new construction and abatements until we hit our max growth.
- Sales and Use Tax revenues, which are limited to expenditures explicitly approved by Boulder County voters, are projected to increase in 2024 by three percent over projected 2023 numbers.