To some, the county budget may seem like nothing more than a dense pile of indecipherable numbers, detailed charts, and spreadsheets. For us, it captures community funding priorities and the best way to leverage taxpayer dollars to provide county services. Like you, we have to balance our budget each year as we fund essential county services like public safety, roads, bridges and other county operations.
Your voice is a key part of building a county budget. We’ve expanded the ways you can share your best ideas with us with the help of community meetings, an online budget survey, community budget forum, telephone town halls, and our October budget hearing.
County commissioners collect community feedback and work closely with other elected and appointed officials to develop a budget that prioritizes funding for critical services. The budget of the general fund proposed for 2023 amounts to 794 million dollars. For example, it identifies $ 155 million for public safety services provided by the sheriff, district attorney, and coroner, as well as $ 83 million for the maintenance and repair of county roads and bridges.
Our budget team will present the final budget on Tuesday, November 15 at 8:00 am in the county commissioners’ hearing room at 100 Jefferson County Parkway in Golden. We encourage you to attend the audition in person or virtually to provide feedback. To find out more, visit www.jeffco.us/meetings.
We were prepared to earn up to $ 20 million in potential General Fund budget cuts. The deficit represents the difference between the growth allowed by TABOR and the increase in the cost of providing these services. But, thanks to COVID recovery dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act – or ARPA funding – we temporarily avoided those cuts. APRA funding is one-time money only. We will not have this option in 2024.
When Jefferson County received $ 113 million in ARPA funds, Jeffco’s ARPA team began working with community members and elected officials to determine what is most needed to help the Jefferson County community and the local economy to recover from COVID. After collecting extensive contributions, the commissioners approved eight priority areas for ARPA funds. We created a task force for each priority area, then matched each task force with county subject matter experts.
Based on this feedback, Jefferson County will invest ARPA dollars in these one-time investments to:
- Offset the economic impacts of the pandemic. Food System Grant: $ 1.7 million for a grant program that addresses food insecurity and disruption of local food supply. It provides equal access to locally produced food while meeting nutritional and cultural needs. Increase community involvement and strengthen local partnerships.
- Respond to public health needs.
- Behavioral Health Coupons: Expand the continuum of care for behavioral health services in Jefferson County by providing $ 1 million in funding for a voucher program, allowing eligible residents to access services through private providers and the Jefferson Center for Mental Health.
- Work with partners to improve broadband infrastructure – Commissioned a study to determine broadband needs in the county. To increase the impact of ARPA funding at the county level, applications will be submitted for IIJA and state grants once priorities have been determined.
- County Jail Staff Increase Fund.
- Improve the MEPs pension package to help with better recruitment and retention.
- Repair and replace critical infrastructure such as roads and culverts.
- Keep our community safe from the threat of forest fires, including increasing defensible space, improving forest health, hardening homes, and creating two new cuttings collection sites throughout the year.
- Develop a 15-year housing master plan for Jefferson County with grant funds from the DOLA Innovative Housing Opportunities Program to combine with county direct ARPA funding to develop a 15-year housing master plan years for Jefferson County. The goal of the master plan is to determine housing needs in the county.
Additionally, as previously mentioned, Jefferson County will leverage the one-time use of ARPA funds to cover a $ 20 million revenue deficit in the General Fund. However, ARPA is only a temporary solution.
Visit our ARPA webpage at www.jeffco.us/ARPA to find a new interactive dashboard with more information on approved projects.
TABOR reimbursement checks
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) requires governments of Colorado to repay revenue collected over the TABOR limit each year or seek voter approval to withhold revenue. For the second consecutive year, real estate taxpayers in Jefferson County have received TABOR reimbursement checks in the mail. Taxpayers received these checks because the county raised more revenue in 2021 than the allowable TABOR income limits.
One of the reasons Jefferson County is in its second year of repaying revenue is the unexpected impact of the COVID pandemic. In 2020, when the economy came to a halt, the county received much less than normal revenue and this caused the TABOR revenue limit calculation to automatically drop by $ 14.5 million. Once the revenue limit is reset, the lower calculation sets the basis for any new growth assigned.
The county must legally reimburse all income beyond this now lower threshold. The total repayment last year was approximately $ 1.5 million. This year’s reimbursement is a little more: $ 17.3 million. County real estate taxpayers received a check proportional to the amount of property taxes paid in 2021. To learn more about TABOR and this year’s reimbursement, visit www.jeffco.us/tabor.
We appreciate your input as we prioritize funding decisions – thanks to everyone who participated in our budgeting process and we look forward to hearing from you more on November 15th!
Visit www.jeffco.us/663contact us directly at [email protected] or individually a [email protected] [email protected] And [email protected]. Jeffco Board of County Commissioners public hearings are held most Tuesdays at 8:00 am See our Meetings and Agendas page for details.