ARPA funds will help some of Jeffco’s financial challenges – but only temporarily
As the holiday season approaches, like many of you, we look forward to spending more quality time with our family and friends. But before we can relax, we need to take care of some important business.
Each November it is our duty as County Commissioners to adopt the budget for the following year. The needs are many, but unfortunately our resources are limited.
As many of you know, Jefferson County has faced financial challenges over the past few years. With limited revenue growth, the county has had to make budget cuts to the general fund totaling $ 16.1 million in 2020 and $ 8.7 million in 2021.
While no reductions are planned for 2022, we anticipate reductions of around $ 14 to $ 16 million in 2023 in the general fund due to recent legislation (SB21-293) that will significantly reduce property tax revenues, which are the main source of income for the county. The legislation provides $ 200 million in property tax relief to property owners statewide for the next two years. The measure was designed to mitigate the negative impact of Proposition 120 had voters approved it. However, Proposition 120 failed in the election last Tuesday.
These cuts affect essential public services such as public safety, roads and more, and a major impact on programs and services could be felt in the years to come. We will continue to thoroughly review operations in all county departments for opportunities to cut costs, greater efficiency, and deeper reductions to achieve a balanced budget, but the cuts alone will not solve the financial challenges. facing the county.
We are receiving federal assistance from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), an economic stimulus bill passed in March and designed to accelerate the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Jefferson County’s ARPA funding is $ 187.2 million. As a local government, $ 113 million of that total goes directly to Jefferson County, while $ 74.2 million will go to towns and villages in the county.
Since federal funds are for one-time use, they can only be used for one-time expenses, such as covering operating deficits caused by COVID-19, rather than to fund new programs or additions to programs. existing ones that require an ongoing financial commitment. .
We welcome this federal assistance with open arms, especially in light of the financial stress facing the county. ARPA will help address some specific areas most affected by the pandemic; however, these funds are more of a lifeline than a lifeboat and do not provide a permanent solution to address the county’s long-term financial challenges.
The key to this job is you and a better understanding of your top priorities for the county. That’s why we created the Jefferson County Rescue Team to support our community through the distribution of COVID-19 relief funds by providing stewardship, tax oversight and federal regulatory compliance for APRA. Since April, we’ve asked the rescue team to actively solicit public comment through several surveys and stakeholder meetings.
It is extremely important that you, as a member of the community, help develop fundraising ideas and prioritize the needs of the community for ARPA dollars. Based on the feedback we have received over the past six months, eight priority areas have emerged: housing, behavioral health, workforce readiness, economic recovery, public health and safety, food insecurity, services and operations. county and income replacement.
Our next step is to create working groups for each of these eight priority areas to deepen and understand the needs and gaps that exist so that we can develop programs that will provide the services and resources that our members have. community need it most. Jeffco’s commissioners were also recently invited to speak with Governor Polis on how best to leverage our county and state dollars as we address these urgent needs.
We know that more difficult decisions lie ahead. County financial realities will impact our work as we prioritize the safety and well-being of our community and the programs and level of services we can provide. You can visit the Financial Facts section of our website at www.jeffco.us for more information.
If you have any questions or comments about the county budget, we encourage you to attend the County Commissioners Council Public Hearing on Tuesday, November 16 at 8 a.m. To learn how to attend the hearing in person or virtually, visit www. jeffco.us/ meetings.
To learn more about Jefferson County Commissioners, visit our website or contact us directly at [email protected] or individually at [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] Jeffco County Council of Commissioners public hearings are held most Tuesdays at 8 a.m. See our Meetings and Agendas page for more details.
Jefferson County Commissioners are Tracy Kraft-Tharp, Andy Kerr and Lesley Dahlkemper.