Subdivision Maintenance Frequently Asked Questions

Subdivision Paving/Local Access Road Maintenance Frequently Asked Questions

The Boulder County Comprehensive Plan (BCCP) provides guidance on gravel and paved roads accepted for maintenance in unincorporated Boulder County. The BCCP stipulates that funding for major repairs should be prioritized for the county’s arterial and collector roadways, and that funding of major repairs for “local access roadways” (aka “subdivision roads”) shall be the responsibility of those served by the road. Basically, funding is focused on roads that serve the most people and provide critical regional connections.

While the county does not conduct major repairs, such as full roadway resurfacing, on subdivision roads, our Road Maintenance crews still conduct operations on these roads, including: snow removal; pothole patching; clearing of ditches, culverts, and other drainage structures; replacement/repairs of sidewalks; and, roadway crack sealing and patching to maintain public safety.

First, we need to provide a little background. There are currently 398 miles of paved road in unincorporated Boulder County, and 145 of these miles are within 115 individual county subdivisions.

As of 2018, the average household in Boulder County (cities, towns, and unincorporated areas including subdivisions) pays $176 per year to the county for transportation services. The Transportation Department spends approximately $1 million annually maintaining paved roads in subdivisions. There are more than 10,000 individual properties in county subdivisions, which means that each subdivision property receives approximately $100 in road maintenance services. This leaves around $76 per subdivision household that is put toward maintaining all of the remaining non-subdivision roads (235 miles) in the county.

As you can see, more than half of an individual subdivision property owner’s contribution toward the funding of countywide road repairs is put back directly into subdivision roads.

Boulder County Transportation also receives funds from the state gas tax, vehicle registration fees and taxes, county sales tax, and the county’s General Fund. Sales tax money can only be used for a specific list of projects that were approved by voters. The remaining funds are used to complete maintenance and rehabilitation of the county’s arterial and collector roads, which carry a majority of the traffic county roads see each day. Diverting funds from this area would only cause these roads to fall into greater disrepair, which would cost significantly more money to fix than it does to perform routine maintenance.

A large portion of the county’s revenues are earmarked for specific uses and cannot be used by the Transportation Department to repair subdivision roads. Each year, each county department submits requests for remaining non-dedicated money from the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) for their following year’s budget. It is the BOCC’s discretion on what to do with any money that isn’t dedicated to specific sources. If the BOCC provided the funding necessary to repair all subdivision roads, that money would then not be available for services like public safety, housing, and human services. Tradeoffs are not as simple as they seem and difficult decisions must be made each year to do what is best for residents of Boulder County.

No, you are likely correct, as a majority of paved roads in county subdivisions are in “poor” condition. How do we know that? Every three years, the county hires an outside company to measure the pavement quality of every paved road countywide. The data gathered is used to determine our “Pavement Quality Index,” which is essentially a measure of the number of cracks and an examination of the roughness/smoothness of the ride itself. To provide additional assistance, we’ve created a Pavement Quality Map and a Subdivision Pavement Quality Map to help provide a visual graphic of all paved roads countywide.

In addition to maintaining roads for safety, in 2014, the county determined that some subdivision roads serve more than just those people who live in the area. Some of these roads provide access to trailheads, places of worship, schools, etc. We call these “Community Use Roads (CUR),” and the Board of County Commissioners agreed that the county should do more to help with them. There are approximately 25 miles of CUR in the county that benefit the greater community and the county has allocated an average of one to two million dollars annually to the rehabilitation of these roads. Roads we’ve repaired include: Linden Drive, Heatherwood Drive, Twin Lakes Road, Carter Trail, Longview Drive, and Westview Drive, among others. The county plans on continuing to work on repairing these roads as funding allows over the coming years.

For now, we’re encouraging subdivision property owners to work with their neighbors and other residents of nearby subdivisions who are facing similar challenges to explore the formation of a large Public Improvement District (PID) that would be large enough to fund and finance systematic ongoing rehabilitation of local access subdivision roads. It is imperative that these conversations are had soon, because road surfaces will continue to degrade, which could result in higher costs for repairs.

If requested, Boulder County Transportation will provide estimates on costs for resurfacing operations. In most cases, we can also provide engineering design, construction inspection and assistance in putting together bid packages and evaluations.

Property owners are permitted to form a PID within their subdivision and may also work together with property owners in other subdivisions to form a district that extends past their individual subdivision borders. This can decrease costs by creating economies of scale as more roads are included in the planned paving operations. Colorado Revised Statutes CRS § 30-20-505(1) says that the organization of a district “shall be initiated by a petition filed in the office of the clerk of the board of county commissioners of the county creating the district. The petition shall be signed by not less than thirty percent or two hundred of the electors in the proposed district, whichever is less.” While Boulder County can encourage subdivision owners to initiate the formation of a PID, it cannot take on the initiation of a PID by itself; the homeowners need to initiate the process by filing a petition with the county. Whether individual subdivisions band together or not is up to the subdivisions.

The county can work directly with your HOA and provide services and assistance throughout the entire road rehabilitation process. To start, we can provide a general cost estimate to rehabilitate each road in the subdivision. This would allow you to begin the conversation with your HOA regarding the likely project costs. If there is support from the HOA to collect the money required for the project, the county would then develop engineering plans for each of your roads. We would coordinate with your HOA to determine the most cost-effective solutions that would fit within your budget parameters. Once the final design is complete, the county would put together a bid package to advertise for response from local contractors. We could provide you with our evaluation of the bids received by the HOA, but the final contractor selection would be up to the HOA. Once the contractor has been selected, the county would provide inspection services during construction to ensure the contractor is building the roads as specified. Of course, once construction is complete, the county would continue to provide maintenance including snow and ice control, street sweeping and pothole repair as needed.

Regarding the imposition of a “tax” to pay for these improvements, the Boulder District Court held in the case of Wibby v. Boulder County Board of Commissioners in 2014 that a Local Improvement District (LID) may not be used for either maintenance or rehabilitation of existing roads; LIDs may only be used for new “improvements.” This precedent still stands and therefore, the county cannot impose a LID to fund these projects.

Yes. There have been two recent ballot measures that have both failed to garner enough votes.

In 2013, measure 5C was placed on the county ballot for the approval of a mill levy increase and debt authorization to form and fund the Boulder County Subdivision Paving Public Improvement District. If passed, a permanent property tax mill levy would have been imposed at a rate not to exceed 7.15 mills to be used for the payment of costs of road rehabilitation and debt for that purpose.

In 2016, County Issue 1A proposed a countywide road and bridge mill levy increase. If passed, it would have instituted a property tax mill levy increase of 0.785 mills for 15 years for the purpose of “funding road and bridge projects within the municipalities in Boulder County and the rehabilitation of paved public local access subdivision roads in unincorporated Boulder County.” It would have applied to paved subdivision roads that have been accepted for maintenance.

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