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December 11, 2018

Boulder County adopts $432.5 million budget for 2019

Also today, the Board of County Commissioners adopted a set of 5-year strategic priorities.

(Boulder County, Colo.) -- The Boulder County Commissioners adopted a budget of $432.5 million for 2019, up from an adopted budget of $426.9 million in 2018. Budget Director Ramona Farineau and the Board of County Commissioners provided an overview of the key aspects and decisions reflected in the adopted budget. Their comments will be available on the county’s video archive (under the Commissioners’ Meetings tab, 2 p.m. budget meeting on 12/11/18). Copies of the budget resolutions are posted on the budget webpage.

Revenue highlights for the 2019 Budget:

  • The 2019 Budget includes a temporary mill levy credit – or decrease in the total allowable tax rate for the Boulder County portion of property taxes – of .734 mills for a total of 24.026 mills in 2019.
  • Sales and Use Tax revenues, which are limited to expenditures explicitly approved by Boulder County voters, are projected to increase in 2019 by three percent over projected 2018 numbers. This increase is attributed to the continuing strong growth in the local economy.
  • $48.3 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 2019 budget addresses ongoing program and operating expenditures for Boulder County, a notable addition to the budget includes funding for upgrades to the Boulder County Jail in the amount of $6 million. This amount includes $200,000 to begin the design work needed to build an Alternative Sentencing Facility.

The funding for the facility was approved by voters in November through the passage of a .185 percent sales tax that will replace the emergency flood recovery tax that expires next year. The tax will be in effect for five years and will raise approximately $50 million which will allow the county to build the facility without the need to issue a new debt instrument. The budget also includes the funding for five additional Sheriff’s Office positions at the Boulder County Jail.

Following recommendations from a staffing consultant, the county commissioners agreed to fund the hiring of three new corrections program coordinators and two new jail deputies in 2019, as well as specialty pay for jail nurses for retention purposes. These positions are in addition to staffing increases approved in 2017 and 2018.

Other highlights:

  • The 2019 budget funds capital projects across various funds. The budget addresses space needs and building conditions which include $1.6 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. Capital items totaling $702,000 have been budgeted for improvements and repairs at the Recycling Center and $1.4 million has been budgeted to purchase a sort yard to be managed by the Parks and Open Space Department.
  • Capital Outlay appropriations include $3.4 million of funding for the implementation of a new Enterprise Resource Planning system and $1.4 million for vehicle replacements in order 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 2019 budget reflects the sixth full year of recovery work from the 2013 Flood. The total flood recovery budget is $27.6 million across all county funds, representing a decrease of $14.7 million from the 2018 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 $9.4 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 18.5 new permanent FTEs have been added to the 2019 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 2.0% fully funded range movement, market adjustments to salaries in selected job classifications, and a merit pool funded at 2%.
  • The 2019 budget will re-appropriate a total of $3.3 million in budgeted 2018 funds earmarked for land purchases under negotiations within the county’s Parks and Open Space Department.

Commissioners certify county mill levy/property tax rate

The Commissioners certified a 2019 mill levy for the county of 24.026 mills (compared to 22.726 mills in 2018), which is projected to generate property tax revenues of $189,095,625 (up from $178,590,811 in 2018). The adopted levy includes a temporary mill levy credit in the amount of .734 mills.

Boulder County's collection of property taxes represents roughly 25 percent of a property owner’s total average property tax bill. Other taxing entities that receive property tax revenues include (from 2018 data): school districts (56%), cities and towns (12%), and “other” fire, water and special districts (7%).

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:

2019-2023 Strategic Priorities

The Board of County Commissioners also introduced a set of 5-year strategic priorities. After working for the past six months with leadership and staff from across the county to help identify and support key initiatives across the county, the commissioners have set the following five strategic priorities:

  • Affordable Living
  • Climate Action
  • Equity & Justice
  • Land & Water Stewardship
  • Organizational & Financial Stewardship

The goals and objectives related to each priority are in final review with a full report to be released in early January.

To review the county commissioners' detailed comments about each of the strategic priorities, scroll to the end of the budget adoption session on the video of the public meeting held at 2 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2018.