Broomfield City Council held a public hearing Tuesday about the city and county’s 2023 proposed budget of $571 million.
The budget includes a capital improvements budget of $129.2 million, and a government operating budget of $191 million. In comparison, the proposed operating budget for 2022 was $174 million, and that was revised to the final 2022 budget of $198 million.
Capital improvement projects listed in the 2023 proposed budget include:
North Area water storage tank project: $30 million
Reuse water tank at Lowell and Sheridan: $12.5 million
Mesa Zone water booster station: $7 million
Airport Creek underpass and trail project: $5.2 million
Street sealing and pavement management: $4.9 million
Vehicle and mobile equipment replacement: $3 million
North Area water system pipe capacity, connections: $2 million
The ‘vehicle and mobile equipment replacement’ item in the capital improvements proposed budget is for purchases such as trailers, heavy equipment, vehicles and office equipment for the projects, said Nancy Rodgers, Broomfield city and county attorney.
The proposed $192.2 million capital improvements budget includes $70.6 million for water utility projects, $12.5 million for water reclamation utility plans, $9 million for community development projects, $9.5 million for parks and recreation, $9.3 million for transportation systems and $5.7 million for trail systems.
In the city and county’s operating budget, some of the largest expenditures include:
Public works: $53.4 million
Police: $37.7 million
Human services: $22.2 million
Parks, recreation and senior services: $21 million
The city and county’s capital and operating budget increases are “resulting from not so much the residual of the pandemic, but economic factors that we’ve seen and discussed previously about the cost of inflation, of goods and services, but also the impacts related to what’s happening nationally, so in terms of insurance,” Broomfield Chief Financial Officer Brenda Richey told City Council during the Tuesday meeting.
“So not just in healthcare, but with the recent hurricanes, with the recent cyberattacks, we’re seeing such a large increase in those insurance premiums,” she said.
The city and county expects to bring in $531.3 million in revenue next year, excluding interfund transfers.
“The thing about the revenue that can be confusing is that they have reserves and other carryover budget amounts that they have from previous years that apply,” said Rick Fernandez, co-founder of the local watchdog and advocacy group Broomfield Taxpayer Matters. “So the revenue number is a combination of those reserves plus tax revenue, so how that all balances out is a big question.”
Fernandez said the city’s debt is one of the biggest concerns for his organization.
“When we looked at what they shared back in August of this year, the current debt load for the city is about $490 million,” Fernandez said. “When you look at what they have in terms of past debt obligation, it’s a pretty heavy debt load. They were anticipating a net tax revenue increase overall of 3%.”
The public will have to pay close attention to any 2023 budget revisions, Fernandez said.
“Something has got to give here,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re paying the taxes — 77,000 residents of Broomfield are footing that bill.”
In the 2023 proposed budget document, Broomfield City and County Manager Jennifer Hoffman said sales tax revenue is expected to return to 2019 levels for the remaining months of 2022, which would help much-needed funds.
She said her staff is taking “special care to rely on conservative fiscal policies and projections that support balanced annual spending.”
The resolution to approve the budget is scheduled for City Council’s final consideration Oct. 25.