Wednesday, August 20, 2014

City Budget Swells to Supersize

by Osman Parvez

So - just how big is the City of Boulder's budget?    I don't know about you, but I find myself wondering every time I see our municipal fleet rolling around town. 

specialty vehicles for all!
In case you don't have time to sift through hundreds of pages of budget-ese, I'll tell you. The total 2014 budget is $269.5 million, or about $2,700 for each and every Boulder resident.  84% is for operating purposes, the rest allocated to capital improvements.  

Here's something that should concern you.  Boulder's budget has grown an average of 6.2% over the past two years, almost 3.5 times CPI over the same period.  And we don't even own a municipal utility, yet. 

Break the City budget down and you'll find that most of the cost growth is concentrated in capital improvements  - not operations.   I had a hard time finding a simple chart in all that bureaucratic reporting, so I put together my own.  

Take a look: 


The blue bars represent the city's capital improvement budget.   The orange line is the percent change from the previous year.    

In 2013, the capital improvement budget expanded to $33.4 million, a whopping 39% increase from the previous year.  In 2014, it grew another 26% to over $42 million.     

What are spending the money on?

The city owns and maintains 330 facilities, 1,880 acres of parkland, 44,921 acres of Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP), 305 miles of streets, 159 miles of bike facilities, 78 underpasses, three water treatment facilities, and 800 miles of water and wastewater piping.   Worthy stuff, in my opinion.   This post isn't intended to bash our spending, it's important to keep investing in our city's infrastructure.  It's the pace of growth that is concerning.   

Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Buyers and Sellers
This blog is (mostly) about real estate in Boulder.  If you're a buyer or seller, you should be aware of how capital improvements impact real estate supply and demand.  I'm specifically talking about zoning and infrastructure related to the North Boulder Subcommunity, Boulder Junction, Gunbarrel Community Center, Downtown, and Civic Area Plans.   

Frankly, it's too much to expect every buyer and seller to be well educated on these things.  That's where an experienced agent-adviser can guide you in the right direction.  

There are a lot of improvements planned for near future (some of which remain unfunded, by the way).   For buyers and sellers, there will be opportunities big and small.  Investors, homeowners, and developers - it's time to pay attention.   There will be winners and losers.   Knowing what's happening will help you make a smarter real estate decision.   

Stay tuned...

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