Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jesse Murphy

County approves budget, projects


December 24, 2016

Boulder County Commissioners approved the final budget for the 2017 fiscal year last week.

The county’s budget is set at $422,451,547 with a mill levy of 24.064.

It is important to note that 2016 was a year where the county did not update appraisals, as they do bi-annually. The next update to the county’s valuation will occur in May 2017 and will be reflected in the 2018 budget.

In the 2015 appraisal, the county’s valuation increased 19 percent, but the county is limited to a 5.5 percent increase in mill levies per state statute.

According to County Public Information Officer Barb Halpin, the years that the county does not have a fresh appraisal to use creates some difficulties in creating the upcoming budget.

“We had to do a significant reduction on our mill levy in order to accommodate that jump,” Halpin said. “So basically we ratcheted it down so we would not take more than the 5.5 percent increase.”

Schools and other special districts can increase their levies to the full amount of increase in value, but the county itself is limited to the 5.5 percent ceiling.

County Commissioners have set the 2017 budget at 24.064 mills, up from 2016 (20.060 mills) but still lower than 2015 — the year of the last appraised value.

“Property values have been through the roof,” Halpin said. “Really along the whole front range, this is not unique to Boulder County. Many other counties are seeing increases of 20 percent or more.”

The county’s portion of property tax represents about 25 percent of the total taxes residents will have to pay.

“That’s something a lot of people don’t realize,” Halpin said. “They think that because they write the check to Boulder County that we keep it all. We don’t. We have to distribute it to about 200 different entities every month.”

Those entities include separate water and fire districts, schools and more.

“Every address in the county has a mix of mill levies,” Halpin said. “One person may pay for a water district while someone two houses down does not. There is no one mill levy for everyone besides the levy for the county.”

Hourly employees also will be seeing a raise to the base rate of $15.67 per hour. This does not apply to salaried employees. The raise is an adjustment from last year’s budget in the amount of $44,421.

Livable wage for hourly employees will cost $298,905 total. The amount was decided based upon a self-sufficiency report based on the cost of living in Boulder County in 2015.

“We’ve been looking at a living wage,” Halpin said. “The county decided on that number as the floor essentially. It’s a small number that was affected. It doesn’t affect employees who are on salary.”

The entire county budget can be found at http://www.bouldercounty.org/gov/budget.


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