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Boulder County adopts $439.9 million budget for 2020

While much of the 2020 budget addresses ongoing program and operating expenditures, a notable highlight includes added emphasis on climate action.
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Boulder County Logo Source: Boulder County website

This content was originally published by the Longmont Observer and is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

The Boulder County Commissioners have adopted a budget of $439.9 million for 2020, up from an adopted budget of $432.5 million in 2019. 

At a public meeting held on Dec. 10, Budget Director Aaron Pratt and the Board of County Commissioners provided an overview of the key aspects and decisions reflected in the adopted budget. (Their comments will available on the county’s video archive under the Commissioners’ Meetings tab, 2 p.m. budget meeting on 12/10/19). Copies of the budget resolutions are posted on the budget webpage.

Statements from the Board

“I am proud to be part of Boulder County’s consistent leadership in fighting for climate action,” said Boulder County Commissioner Matt Jones. “In this budget we are doubling down on our efforts in solar adoption, energy conservation, and supporting electric vehicles, plus partnering with other local governments and the state do even more.”

“We’re proud of the important work being done on climate and sustainability and we wish to thank our voters once again for approving the 1A Sustainability Tax that will bring in more than $8 million in revenue each year starting in 2020 to help fight the impacts of climate change in our community,” said Elise Jones, Chair, Boulder Board of County Commissioners.

“Our budget for 2020 is well-aligned with our strategic priorities and shows how Boulder County serves the community and protects our natural environment through a myriad of important services and programs each day,” said Deb Gardner, Vice-Chair. Boulder Board of County Commissioners. “Since approving the Commissioners’ Strategic Priorities last year, we have had a reliable compass to follow when prioritizing county funds and I’m happy to see that decision-making in action.”


Revenue highlights for the 2020 Budget

  • The 2020 Budget includes a temporary mill levy credit – or decrease in the total allowable tax rate for the Boulder County portion of property taxes – of 1.408 mills for a total of 23.473 mills in 2020.(*see explanation below of the 5.5% Property Tax Revenue Limit which Boulder County is subject to.)
  • Sales and Use Tax revenues, which are limited to expenditures explicitly approved by Boulder County voters, are projected to increase in 2020 by three percent over projected 2019 numbers. This increase is attributed to a stable economy and a new revenue stream being generated by recently approved statutes that require remote sellers to now remit tax to the county. In addition, the voter approved Sustainability Sales and Use Tax takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and is expected to generate an additional $8.4 million in revenue.
  • $19.1 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

Overview and Highlights

While much of the 2020 budget addresses ongoing program and operating expenditures for Boulder County, the following are notable additions:

  • The 2020 budget funds capital projects across various funds. Of note is funding for upgrades to the Boulder County Jail in the amount of $4.5 million and capital items totaling $2.1 million for replacement equipment items at the Recycling Center.
  • Capital Outlay appropriations include $3.6 million of funding for the implementation of a new Sheriff’s software system due to an end of life situation and $1.2 million for vehicle replacements to keep the county’s fleet current, in good condition, and to minimize related maintenance costs. The county will also continue the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure at county facilities.
  • The 2020 budget reflects the seventh full year of recovery work from the 2013 Flood. The total flood recovery budget is $19.1 million across all county funds, representing a decrease of $9 million from the 2019 budget. The commissioners also approved extensions for those existing term FTEs which continue to perform duties primarily related to flood recovery efforts.
  • In addition to funding for flood recovery repairs, the Road & Bridge Fund budget contains $7.9 million for the maintenance and rehabilitation of county roads and bridges as well as $5.2 million for dedicated transportation sales tax projects.
  • The county has budgeted $6.7 million to fund sustainability projects to be funded by the new sales and use tax revenue stream approved by county voters.
    • Of this new sales and use tax revenue, nearly $400,000 will be used to fund the municipal Sustainability Matching Grant projects which were also approved by the Board on Dec. 10.
  • An additional 10 new permanent FTEs and 7 new term FTEs have been added to the 2020 budget. In addition to the new jail staff mentioned above, the budget includes funding for three new District Attorney positions in response to increased workloads, a multimodal planner, and a hazardous materials specialist, among others. The salary and benefits package for county employees includes a 1.6% fully funded range movement, market adjustments to salaries in selected job classifications, and a merit pool funded at 2%.

Commissioners certify county mill levy/property tax rate

The Commissioners certified a 2020 mill levy for the county of 23.473 mills (compared to 24.026 mills in 2019), which is projected to generate property tax revenues of $203.9 million (up from $189.0 million in 2019). The adopted levy includes a temporary mill levy credit in the amount of 1.408 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 2019 data): school districts (55%), cities and towns (11%), and “other” fire, water and special districts (8%).

By state statute, the Board of County Commissioners must approve an annual budget by Dec. 15 for the next calendar year. Current and past years’ budgets can be viewed online at: boco.org/Budget.


*5.5% Property Tax Revenue Limit

The statutory "5.5%" Property Tax Revenue Limit, also known as the "Annual Levy Law" (Section 29-1-301, et seq., C.R.S.), applies to statutory local governments that levy for property taxes, including Boulder County. The "5.5%" limit restricts the amount of property tax revenue that may be collected each year, meaning that Boulder County will set a property tax mill levy that takes in no more than a 5.5% increase in general operating property taxes over the past year. 




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