Thursday, April 11, 2019
The fate of Boulder’s $40 million property at Alpine-Balsam may have dominated discussion Tuesday night, but there were other budget priorities to be decided as well. Boulder has $375 million in projects, services and programs that need to be paid for in coming years, and no clear plan on where the money will come from.
Some are critical: replacing the aged software systems for the municipal court and fire department, or keeping the library running. Others are long-time community wants, such as the $4.8 million purchase of a conservation easement to save Long’s Gardens. A couple are pet projects, like re-installing doors on the east side of the municipal building, recently trumpeted by councilwoman Lisa Morzel.
There was some criticism from council about items that were included on the list. Things like an $8 million open space campus seemed more wants than needs, council members felt.
“This kinda feels like a wishlist of everything everyone could think of,” said councilman Bob Yates. He asked that staff make recommendations on what should be given higher priority.
City Manager Jane Brautigam pushed back against that assertion. Everything on the list was something that “some important person in the city has really made an effort around.”
Kady Doelling, Boulder’s chief budget officer, said the list was meant as a compilation of the many things council has expressed are worthy of investment. Its purpose is to spark the very discussion council was having on prioritization.
“While this is seemingly shock and awe,” Doelling said, “this is an introduction to a conversation that is going to be iterative.”
Short on time, council focused on the most immediate funding needs, things that will need to be paid for in 2019 or 2020. Some monies are available via excess funds from 2018, or can be allocated as one-time expenses during the 2020 budget process, beginning now.
Most members of council emphasized health and safety spending. That includes keeping our roads in good shape, said councilman Aaron Brockett, as the potholes and cracks in roads and sidewalks can pose serious risks.
“We need to pay more attention to the state of our streets,” he said. “Looking around as I walk and bike and drive, I feel like we’re not (taking care) of our infrastructure.”
The Long’s Gardens item, which councilwoman Mirabai Nagle said was a priority for her, won’t be budgeted for in 2020. Similarly, a new middle-income down payment assistance program was taken off the list of immediate needs, per Sam Weaver’s request, because it can be funded using existing resources.
Although the 2019 budget included $5.6 million in reductions from general fund expenditures, due to declining sales tax, Boulder finished 2018 in a slightly stronger financial position than anticipated. Retail sales tax revenue ended the year up 2.8% overall (though considerably below surrounding communities and slightly less than the rate of inflation).
City officials believe sales tax growth is likely to remain flat over the next several years, averaging 2-3% growth annually through 2025. If a long-expected economic recession hits, Boulder could see negligible growth or declines in sales tax revenue.
To view a Twitter thread of this council discussion, click here.
$375M in unfunded projects
Critical facility investments: $188.79M
Increased community demand: $59.425M
End of lifecycle technology replacement: $6M
Climate initiatives: $5.025M
Improvements of public space amenities: $63.163M
New city business/service opportunities: $54.48M
Workforce recruitment/retention: $2.5M
Immediate (2019-2020): $48.406M
Intermediate (2021-2024): $204.909M
Long-term (2025 and beyond, or projects with no timeline): $125.668M
A full list of projects, by timing and category
Critical facility investments ($25.65M)
Fire Station No. 3 construction: $7.5M
Alpine Balsam deconstruction: $15.2M
Fire station deficiencies: $1.75M
Re-installing east entry doors at municipal building: $700K
End of lifecycle technology replacements ($2M)
Boulder fire records management system: $650K
Customer relationship mgt. system: $750K
Municipal court software: $650K
Increased community demand ($10.806M)
Transit service expansion: $5.72M
Transportation core maintenance/ops: $3.6M
Radio services ops/equip $950K
Maintain library services at current level: $536K
New city business/service opportunities ($3M)
Middle-income housing strategy: $3M
Public space amenity improvements ($4.8M)
Purchase of conservation easement at Long’s Garden: $4.8M
Workforce retention ($2.5M)
Living wage increase to $17.42/hr: $1.5M
PERA adjustment: $1M
Critical facility investments ($124.5M)
Fire Station No. 2 relocation: $20M
Fire Station No. 4 relocation: $20M
OSMP future campus: $8M
City facility maintenance backlog: $1.7M
Renovation for New Britain, Park Central (if no pavilion by 2024): $2M
Alpine Balsam Pavilion remodel: $58M
Alpine Balsam infrastructure: $12M
Deconstruction of New Britain, Park Central: $2M
Leases for New Britain, Park Central (if no pavilion by 2024): $800K
End of lifecycle technology replacement ($3M)
HR and financial systems: $3M
Increased community demand ($40.929M)
Parking subsidies and alternative transit for downtown workers: $1.5M
Pearl Street Mall refresh: $4M
Traffic signal connections to broadband: $9.6M
Uni Hill public right-of-way improvements: $1.2M
Vision Zero: $1.3M
Library Master Plan service expansion: $6.531M
NoBo Library operations: $3.598M
Supplemental support for Eco Pass: $1.2M
Transportation Master Plan: $12M
New city business/service opportunities ($36.48M)
Fire EMS startup costs: $4.1M
CU South open space purchase: $18M
14 electric HOP buses: $11.08M
Fire EMS annual operating costs: $3.3M
Climate initiatives $5.025M (various programs)
End of lifecycle technology replacement: $1M (citywide conference rooms)
New city business/service opportunities: $15M (affordable housing goal)
Critical facility improvements ($38.64M)
Rec center and indoor pool improvements: $8.64M
Police building expansion (25-30K extra sq ft needed): $30M
Increased community demand ($7.69M)
Small biz strategy (including affordable commercial spaces): $1.15M
Hill hotel public plaza: $3M
Gunbarrel Library + Canyon Theater, other library expanded services: $3.54M
Public space amenity improvements ($58.363M)
Boulder Civic Area Phase 2: $8M
Valmont City Park Phase 2: $6.45M
Park development in Violet and Eaton neighborhoods: $4.965M
East Mapleton ball fields relocated to Stazio: $7.3M
Boulder Reservoir enhancements: $11.6M
Historic/cultural facility improvements (Chautauqua, Harbeck, etc.): $2.758M
Sports complexes and athletic field improvements: $5.24M
Park enhancements: $12M
This list of projects, including brief explanations, can be found on pages 13-18 of the council packet for the April 9 study session.