2021 BUDGET APPROVED, WELD COUNTY IN EXCELLENT FINANCIAL CONDITION
WELD COUNTY, CO — During Monday’s meeting, the Weld County Board of Commissioners approved the 2021 budget for the gross amount of $352,208,640. The Board also extended the 20+ year practice of charging below the TABOR limit (which is 22.038 mills) for property taxes by agreeing to keep the mill levy at 15.038 mills. The county is in excellent financial condition with no debt, no sales tax, one of the lowest mill levies among all Colorado counties, a significant cash reserve, and a fully funded pension plan. The major factors impacting the 2021 budget continue to be dominated by the oil and gas development in Weld County, population growth, state and federal budget issues, service restructuring in Weld County government and the added impact of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the local and national economy.
As we approach 2021 and execute the Weld County 2021 budget, we stand several months into a grave economic crisis caused by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The economic landscape continues to evolve as businesses dramatically shift workflows, households reevaluate their finances, and federal, state, and local governments seek new policies to both reopen economically while at the same time tempering the spread of COVID-19. The Colorado and U.S. economies contracted in 2020 at rates more severe than those experienced during the Great Recession.
Some business closures and job losses will be permanent, leaving a lasting mark on economic activity. The global oversupply of crude oil, met with the COVID-19-related plummet in fuel demand, sent crude oil prices to unprecedented lows. As the U.S. oil and gas industry contracts, upstream and downstream industry impacts are mounting, compounding the impacts of the COVID-induced recession. Unprecedented federal stimulus and monetary policy have helped to stabilize and soften the impact of economic contraction. Yet, the strength of the recovery remains uncertain and dependent on controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of this impacts the Weld County budget through reduction in revenues and increased human service and health department costs.
Many uncertainties face county governments like Weld County, as we operate in an environment of constant change that has never been more apparent. However, even in this environment the Weld County Commissioners are confident the 2021 budget adopted today will allow Weld County to maximize the value of the tax dollars of the citizens of Weld County and continue to provide the citizens the county services they deserve.
Highlights from the 2021 budget include:
- Position the county financially to deal with a significant drop in oil and gas assessed valuation for the 2022 budget.
- Continue response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Fund the oil and gas revenue fluctuation reserve in the Contingency Fund at $100 million.
- Communications will phase in recovering 40% of costs through user fees versus 20%.
- Open 2 West Wing jail expansion.
- 24.00 FTE in the Sheriff’s Office will be added in 2021 to open expanded jail capacity.
- Sheriff’s Office will assume the management of criminal records and evidence from the Greeley Police Department contract to bring the two functions in-house January 1, 2021.
- Continue efforts to control health care costs for county employees/dependents. No rate increase in 2021, meaning premiums are 11.8% lower than they were seven years ago.
- A new Coroner’s morgue will be constructed and staffed.
- The public safety information system (Spillman) will be replaced with the CentralSquare system.
- The 2021-2025 Capital Improvements Plan for facilities is funded at $78,525,000.
- Implement an air quality monitoring system in response to SB 19-181.
- Fund the Public Works road and bridge 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Plan.
- Include the Weld County Trust Fund funding for Bright Futures in the amount of $1.5 million.
- E-911 monthly charges will increase from $1.20 to $1.72 on February 1, 2021, to fund emergency dispatch services.
Submitted to The BARN by:
Baker Geist, Weld County Communications Specialist