While much of the 2022 budget addresses ongoing program and operating expenditures, some notable highlights include added emphasis on statutory requirements of public safety in response to legislative mandates and an increase in service needs.
Boulder County, Colo. — The Boulder County Commissioners have adopted a budget of $549.8 million for 2022.
At a public meeting held on Dec. 9, 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 be made available on the county’s video archive under the Commissioners’ Meetings tab, 3 p.m. budget meeting on 12/9/21). Copies of the budget resolutions are posted on the budget webpage.
By state statute, the Board of County Commissioners must approve an annual budget by December 15 for the next calendar year. Current and past years’ budgets can be viewed online at: boco.org/Budget.
Statements from the Board
“An important part of the budget is what we did to accelerate our forest health and wildfire mitigation work after last year’s record breaking Calwood Fire,” Commissioner Matt Jones said. “We added a new Fireshed coordinator to help accelerate the scale and pace of forest health work to meet today’s ferocious fires and to collaborate with our many partners—watershed groups, local fire departments, city water departments, the US and State Forest Services, scientists and numerous others. We also solidified staffing for the Wildfire Partners home mitigation program, added a worker to the Parks and Open Space forest mitigation crew and continued to support the Sheriff’s office fire response and mitigation team.”
“We enacted a budget that gives our staff the resources, both personnel and equipment, to do the complicated and challenging jobs we need them to do. From open space to climate action, human services to public works and more, county employees keep Boulder County residents safe and assist them in living lives of dignity no matter their circumstances or challenges. I’m pleased that we were able to fund additional staff positions to lessen workloads, initiate some new services for the public, and provide a package of compensation and benefits that demonstrates how much we value our staff.” Commissioner Claire Levy
“Our budget for 2022 is well-aligned with our strategic priorities and shows how Boulder County responds to the community and protects our natural environment through a diverse array of important services and programs daily,” said Marta Loachamin, Vice-Chair Boulder Board of County Commissioners. “Following over 18 months in a global pandemic it was even more important to put employees first by including an all-encompassing compensation and benefits package to support the staff who is serving Boulder County residents .”
Revenue highlights for the 2022 Budget
- The 2022 Budget includes a temporary mill levy credit – or decrease in the total allowable tax rate for the Boulder County portion of property taxes – of .515 mills for a total of 24.250 mills in 2022. (*see explanation below of the 5.5% Property Tax Revenue Limit which Boulder County is subject to.) Budgeted Property Tax Revenue for the 2022 budget is estimated at $226.3M.
- Sales and Use Tax revenues, which are limited to expenditures explicitly approved by Boulder County voters, are estimated at $79.6 million for 2022. This estimated increase of 5% percent over projected 2021 actuals (six months of actuals from January-July) is attributed to a better-than-expected consumer economic response after stay-at-home orders were lifted and steady increases in revenue being generated by a previously approved federal statute that requires remote sellers to remit tax to the county.
- Boulder County’s collection of property taxes represents roughly 26.5 percent of a property owner’s total average property tax bill. Other taxing entities that receive property tax revenues include (from 2021 data): school districts (54%), cities and towns (11.2%), and “other” fire, water and special districts (8.3%).
Overview and Highlights
While much of the 2022 budget addresses ongoing program and operating expenditures for Boulder County, the following are notable additions:
- After holding steady on staffing increases in 2021, an additional 30 new permanent FTEs have been added to the 2022 budget. During the 2022 budget process the Board of County Commissioners wanted to address staffing and workload issues faced by multiple county departments and offices due to the increase in community service needs. As such, prioritized positions presented by elected officials, the county administrator, and other offices have been included in the adopted budget. The salary and benefits package for county employees includes a 1.8% fully funded range movement, market adjustments to salaries in selected job classifications, and a merit pool funded at 2.9%.
- The 2022 adopted budget includes funding for the construction portion of the Boulder County Alternative Sentencing Facility in the amount of $21.1 million. This funding is available from voter approved revenue through the extension and repurposing of an existing .185% sales and use tax for the restricted purpose of funding this construction by 2024.
- In addition to funding for the Alternative Sentencing Facility, the capital construction budget contains $930 thousand for jail sub-day rooms for all holding facilities in order to comply with House Bill 21-1211, $3.3 million to renovate and upgrade the current jail kitchen, and $9.1 million for the continued buildout of the Southeast County HUB (located in Lafayette, CO).
- Capital Outlay appropriations include $909 thousand of funding for the procurement and implementation of the Sheriff’s body-worn cameras program in order to comply with House Bill 21-1250.
- Set aside one million dollars for Boulder Rifle Club improvements to ensure that the US Forest Service will close 70,000 acres of land to dangerous sport shooting.
- The 2022 budget includes approximately $400,000 in financial resources to begin an Office of Racial Equity (ORE) in the County Administrator’s office at Boulder County. This is an extension of work that aligns with the Strategic Priorities of Boulder County Government of Equity and Justice and will begin with a hiring of an Executive Director early in 2022 to guide the critical work of internally reviewing policies, procedures and programming throughout the local government organization.
*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.