Subdivision Paving Frequently Asked Questions

In late November 2013, the Board of County Commissioners finalized the details of a Local Improvement District to pay for the rehabilitation of paved roads in unincorporated Boulder County subdivisions.

The improvement district will be funded in part by an assessment to be paid by each property owner in the District. (See Assessment Resolution 2013-16 assessing properties in the LID to pay a portion of the cost of the road improvements in unincorporated county subdivisions that benefit those properties.). Boulder County is paying 20% of the total costs.

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers (Q&A Fact Sheet)


What is the problem?

There are about 150 miles of paved roads in more than 120 subdivisions in unincorporated Boulder County. More than 40% of the paved roads in these subdivisions are in poor condition because they have not been resurfaced or repaved in many years. Without further action, these roads will continue to get worse, and become more expensive to fix. As these subdivision roads have continued to deteriorate, the issue has become a major concern to residents, the county Transportation Department, and the Board of County Commissioners.

Why do we have this problem?

When roads were first constructed within unincorporated subdivisions, Boulder County accepted the roads for "maintenance,” which includes basic services such as snow removal, pothole patching and crack filling. Routine maintenance does not include significant capital repair projects such as reconstruction or repaving of roads. With the passage of time, these roads now require some form of rehabilitation.

The county does not receive sufficient funding through tax collections or other revenue sources to pay for the rehabilitation of subdivision roads. Taxes collected from property owners and other revenue sources go towards routine maintenance of subdivision roads in addition to keeping all primary county roads and bridges in good condition. As a result, the County has provided (and will continue to provide) day-to-day maintenance of subdivision roads, but it has neither repaved subdivision roads, nor taxed residents at the level required to repave or reconstruct their subdivision roads.

Several subdivisions (most notably the Gunbarrel General Improvement District and Palo Park Local Improvement District in 1995) have voted to create an improvement district to resurface their roads. However, most paved subdivisions have not implemented improvement districts. Therefore, their roads have not been resurfaced since they were first built 15 to 20 years ago.

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How can I find out what condition my road is in? And how is pavement condition determined?

This map shows the pavement condition of unincorporated Boulder County subdivision roads in 2012.

Every three years, every mile of paved road in unincorporated Boulder County is evaluated as “Good”, “Fair” or “Poor”. The pavement quality is determined by using specialized equipment that measures how many cracks are in the pavement and how rough the ride is. From this information, every segment of road is assigned a number from 1 (bad) to 10 (good). This number is called the Pavement Quality Index, or PQI. Roads with a PQI less than 5 are rated as Poor. Roads with a PQI from 5–7 are rated as Fair. Roads with a PQI greater than 7 are rated as Good.

To see what a good, fair or poor road looks like, here are pictures of examples. Select the photos below to enlarge.

Example of a good road. Example of a fair road. Example of a poor road.

Good

Fair

Poor

My road is in good or fair condition. Should I be concerned?

In 2009, about 68% of paved subdivision roads in Boulder County were in fair or poor condition. In 2012, that percentage had jumped to 85% due to continued deterioration from use and weather. Without action, the roads will continue to get worse every year and more expensive to fix. Over the next five years, most of the currently good roads will become fair; many fair roads are likely to deteriorate into poor condition, and the cost of fixing them will be much higher. Delay increases the total cost of repairs by approximately $1.5 to $2 million per year (depending on the rate of deterioration and cost of oil, which is a key ingredient in asphalt). It is much more cost effective over the long run to keep a road in fair or good condition for as long as possible and provide routine maintenance, than it is to let it deteriorate to a poor condition, when total reconstruction is required.

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Why is it important to address the problem now?

Each year of delay increases the costs of total repairs between $1.5 to $2 million (depending on the cost of oil and how fast roads deteriorate) and increases the costs of ongoing day-to-day maintenance and repair since there will be more potholes that need patching, cracks in the pavement that need to be sealed and plowing of snow will be more difficult and expensive.

Similar to taking care of a house or car, it is generally less expensive over the long term to keep roads in good condition to avoid expensive repairs. “You can pay now for a low cost oil filter or pay later for an expensive new engine.” Lower-cost repaving of the road performed at proper intervals will greatly extend the life of the road, reduce overall costs, and improve neighborhood quality of life.

As these subdivision roads have continued to deteriorate, the issue has become a major concern to residents, the County Transportation Department, and the Board of County Commissioners. Over the past several years, County residents have made it clear that roads need to be repaired and the County should determine a permanent way to address this need in a fair and affordable manner.

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How will resurfacing and rehabilitation of subdivision roads be funded?

Please see the response to Why do we have this problem?

Since the 1995 update of the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan it has been policy that those who primarily benefit from a service or specific infrastructure should pay for it. Thus owners of property in unincorporated county subdivisions are expected to pay for reconstruction of the roads that provide access to their property.

Based on the extensive community input that has been provided over the past several years and the many meetings held with neighborhood representatives, creating an improvement district that includes those who use subdivision roads to access their property is the most appropriate method to pay for the overlay and rehabilitation costs. The two types of improvement districts appropriate for road rehabilitation are a Public Improvement District (PID) or a Local Improvement District (LID).

In response to a majority of the public input, and in an effort to permanently address this public need in the most fair and affordable manner, the Board of County Commissioners, committed to placing the creation of a Public Improvement District on the November 2013 ballot. The meausre did not pass, leaving the only remaining option to create a Local Improvement District under current statutory authority to address the issue of fixing the deteriorating roads.

Recognizing that about 20% of affected subdivision roads provide access to shared destinations such as trailheads, schools or places of worship that are used by others, Boulder County will therefore commit to contribute 20% of the cost of rehabilitating these subdivision roads.

Update (11/6/2013): The PID failed to pass on the November 2013 ballot, so an LID will go into effect in 2014.

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What's a Local Improvement District (LID)?

An LID can be created by the County Commissioners without a vote, and assesses all properties in the district to pay for a one-time rehabilitation of the subdivision roads over a defined period of years. It provides a temporary fix by getting all roads up to good shape, but LID revenues cannot be used for the long-term upkeep and repair of the roads. Assessments, which are not defined as a tax, are generally based on a per-property assessment rather than the property tax associated with a PID. LID payments are not tax deductible. Also, a LID establishes a lien upon a property, and if any payment is missed all unpaid amounts become due - this is enforced by the sale of the property under CRS 30-20-615.

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Who will the Local Improvement District apply to? Am I affected by this? What roads are included in the Local Improvement District?

This map shows all unincorporated Boulder County subdivision roads that are included in the Local Improvement District. Private properties that are accessed by unincorporated county paved subdivision roads are in the district.

Boulder County has sent information to each property owner within the proposed Local Improvement District at the address that property tax bills are sent. Beginning in 2014, the LID assessment will appear on property tax bills. The annual property assessments are available in a word-searchable PDF document. Use Ctrl F to search for your name.

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What are the cost of Improvements and apportionment to each tract of land?

Full details about the LID assessment can be found in the Assessment Resolution. The total cost of the improvements is estimated to be $72 million. Since some of these roads serve a broader countywide purpose, such as providing access to community facilities such as schools, places of worship or trailheads, Boulder County has committed to covering 20% of the total costs of subdivision road rehabilitation under either scenario.

The County’s 20% contribution lowers the total estimated payment obligation of the property owners within the District for the improvements to $57.6 million. Any remaining costs exceeding this amount will be paid from an additional assessment as necessary.

The portion of the cost of the improvements to be assessed against property in the District shall be assessed: 1) 25% based on a property’s value and 2) 75% based on length of road in the subdivision where the property is located. Each property will also pay a $13 administrative fee. The average cost per year per property over 15 years is estimated to be $356.

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How is Boulder County participating in this program to repair the roads and what are its responsibilities?

The County Commissioners recognize that subdivision roads often provide access for non-subdivision traffic and also provide access to regional destinations such as schools, trailheads and places of worship. Thus, the County Commissioners have committed to partner with affected property owners by contributing 20% of the cost of rehabilitating unincorporated subdivision roads over the duration of the project.

Boulder County will also continue to provide the routine maintenance and services it currently provides to address the immediate safety needs of the public, such as plowing snow and patching of potholes.

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What is the difference between routine maintenance and road rehabilitation?

The Local Improvement District will create a funding mechanism to rehabilitate subdivision roads that are currently deteriorating. There is a distinct difference between road maintenance and road rehabilitation.

Routine road maintenance includes snow removal, street sweeping, patching of potholes, asphalt patching, crack filling, road grading, cleaning culverts, improving roadside drainage, and repair of or replacement of traffic signs and pavement markings. Routine maintenance does not include significant capital repair projects such as reconstruction or re-paving of roads.

Road rehabilitation is the term used to define work done on a roadway in excess of routine maintenance. Road rehabilitation includes periodic resurfacing such as chip seal, asphalt overlays and in extreme cases, total reconstruction of the road. The proposed improvement district will create a funding mechanism for rehabilitating and resurfacing deteriorating paved roads in the county's unincorporated subdivisions.

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Do I already pay taxes to the County for road maintenance and repair?

Yes. A portion of the taxes that you pay to the County each year is used for the maintenance and repair of County roads. In 2012 the average household in Boulder County paid approximately $100 for the maintenance and repair of all roads in unincorporated Boulder County. Of the average $100 per household paid for County road and bridge maintenance and repair, the average homeowner in an unincorporated subdivision with paved roads received approximately $70 in direct services such as snow plowing, pothole patching, crack sealing and sidewalk repairs. That left only $30 for ongoing maintenance and rehabilitation of the County's regional road network.

It should be noted that households in the cities and towns throughout the county pay not only this average $100 per year for upkeep of the unincorporated regional county roads, but also pay an additional amount for the upkeep of their city roads.

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Why can't existing funds be used to repair subdivision roads?

Some property owners have expressed frustration that the County is not using existing funds for the rehabilitation of roads. It is Boulder County policy that those who primarily benefit from a service or specific subdivision road should pay for it. Thus owners of property in unincorporated County subdivisions are expected to pay for reconstruction of the roads that provide access to their property. Recognizing that some of these roads also provide connections to other destinations used by non-subdivision residents, there will be a contribution from the County Commissioners for 20% of the cost of addressing this problem, regardless of the type of improvement district implemented.

Reallocation of general fund revenue from other county-wide needs in order to rehabilitate subdivision paved roads cannot occur without significant impacts to other critical County services. During these difficult and uncertain economic times there are many competing priorities for County resources. Because County services are paid for by property taxes collected from all properties in the County, both incorporated and unincorporated, the County Commissioners are committed to focusing the use of those funds on services that are used county-wide, such law enforcement, the jail, human services and the maintenance of the regional road network.

Funding to maintain open space is dedicated for very specific purposes and cannot be used for other reasons. Likewise, funding through the formation of a PID or LID will be solely dedicated to rehabilitating subdivision roads and cannot be used for other purposes.

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How can I ask a question, submit a comment or stay informed?

To stay informed of what Boulder County is doing about subdivision paving, please select one or more of the following methods of communication. We value your feedback and your questions, concerns and input will help us better meet your needs and expectations.

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Submit a Comment, or Question

All comments will be documented and used to help Boulder County make decisions about how to form a Public Improvement District for repaving subdivision roads.

Sign Up For Our Mailing List

The easiest way to always have the most current information on subdivision paving is to register here to receive updates.

Call the Boulder County Subdivision Paving Information Line: (720) 407-4787.

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