City Council will discuss the recommended budget later this month

After one of the toughest 18 months for governments everywhere, Boulder City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde today released a cautiously optimistic recommended budget for 2022. The recommended budget, subject to review and approval by City Council, totals $462.5 million.

The operating portion of the proposed budget is $300.1 million, which represents an 11% increase, and the capital portion is $162.4 million, which represents a 128% increase, compared to 2021. The capital budget increase is largely due to a planned Utilities Fund bond issuance. This spending plan is based upon an expectation that many revenue sources are trending up after sharp pandemic-related declines in 2020 and 2021.

The City Manager’s 2022 Recommended Budget prioritizes renewal and restoration, with a goal of bringing relief to a weary community and stretched employees. It seeks to return the services that have the highest impact on those who live, work and visit Boulder, while also recognizing that new issues and needs have emerged as a result of COVID-19.

“I am proud to present a recommended budget that emphasizes restoration, equity, innovation and service excellence,” Rivera-Vandermyde said. “We’re striving to bring back vital and beloved programs and service levels to our community, while also leaning into the shared resilience and lessons we’ve learned during these challenging times.”

Restorations

The city took a strategic look at all requests for service restoration. Proposed areas of restoration include:

  • Staffing to support important community gathering places and beloved services. These appropriations include:

    • Library staff so the George Reynolds Branch, Meadows Branch and the North Boulder Corner Library can resume services for nearby neighborhoods
    • Housing and Human Services staff to support increased hours of services and programming at the West Age Well Center. The mission of Older Adult Services is to inspire and empower older adults to age well through community connection, learning and play. Older Adult Services also provides case management and services to meet older adults’ comprehensive needs, including safety and quality of life.
    • Continuation of the downtown ambassador and encampment clean-up staffing that was approved by City Council in 2021 to address the proliferation encampments and support safety in public spaces
    • Planning and Development Services customer service and intake staff to support effective permitting and compliance, address community concerns about onerous processes and advance council priorities
    • Human Resources talent acquisition partners to ensure that the city attracts, hires and retains top-notch, creative and engaged professionals at all levels
    • A Housing and Human Services full-time coordinator to reinvigorate Youth Opportunity Program programs and the Youth Opportunities Advisory Board. These programs cultivate leadership skills in high school students, lifting their voices in grant and policy decisions that impact their lives and contribute to positive outcomes.

  • Programmatic funding for:

    • Recreation center operations, EXPAND and other inclusive programs that bring the benefits of fitness, fun, teaming and belonging to our whole community
    • Cultural grants, recognizing the role that the arts play in building community, sparking creativity, and supporting healing in challenging times
    • Engagement and outreach to under-served communities, expanding efforts to reduce barriers to access to services, demystify government and promote meaningful participation in decision-making
    • HOP bus service, offering an environmentally friendly, convenient and affordable transit option along the city’s major corridors
    • The flexible rebate program to retain small businesses and primary employers as we work together to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic
    • A Family Resource Schools contract with Mental Health Partners to provide individual, in-person therapy to elementary students and support effective suicide assessments and interventions
    • Police vehicles, recognizing that fleet replacement was suspended entirely in 2021; returning to the planned fleet replacement schedule per best practices will minimize long-term costs and ensure safety and reliability

An investment in staffing, city employees

The recommended budget also recognizes the importance of maintaining a talented workforce. This proposal adds 58.5 FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) standard positions and extends 18 current fixed-term positions – recognizing the staggering impact staffing reductions in 2020 and 2021 had on the ability of the city to serve the community.

Some of these positions will support restored services; others will allow the city to achieve goals around new and emerging priorities. These include:

  • Supporting the implementation of the city’s first-ever racial equity plan, including helping staff across the organization understand and dismantle systems and policies that perpetuate oppression
  • Improving rental assistance programming in a time of tremendous housing stress in our community and country
  • Assisting individuals achieve affordable home ownership with an additional coordinator position, who will help potential buyers navigate affordable housing eligibility; educate the public about programs and homeownership opportunities; assist program participants with real estate transactions; and provide guidance and information regarding financing requirements.
  • Addressing staffing challenges in the Fire Department, recognizing the importance of effective risk mitigation and timely response, especially in the face of increased wildfire danger
  • Coordinating and tracking citywide energy reduction efforts to better support our bold and urgent climate goals
  • Ensuring that our new website follows best practices and offers our community an accurate, engaging, easy-to-use platform for civic information

If this proposal is approved by council, city employees will once again be eligible for merit pay increases, based on annual performance evaluations, or for employees who are members of bargaining units, agreed upon contracts.

“Our workforce is our most important asset,” Rivera-Vandermyde said. “City employees truly value public service and have demonstrated once again that they step up to ensure the well-being of our community in times of crisis. It is important that we retain this talent so we can continue to meet pressing public needs.”

Other areas of focus

The recommended budget also spells out potential expenditures related to capital and maintenance needs. In addition, it positions Boulder to continue to provide funding in areas that residents care about most, including providing effective programs and support to unhoused and vulnerable populations; addressing affordable housing challenges; responding to COVID-19; preventing harm and crime through effective policing and reform; maintaining our transportation infrastructure; championing open spaces, parks, libraries and recreation centers; and supporting arts and culture in our community.

Next steps

City Council will discuss the budget for the first time and hold a public hearing on Sept. 28. Second reading, another public hearing and a vote is scheduled for Oct. 19.