As a part of the ongoing work of the Board of County Commissioners and staff in prioritizing the 2020 budget, the Board of County Commissioners recently called special meetings with elected officials to determine their budget reduction targets and the repercussions associated with those reductions.
As a result of these prioritization discussions, the County Manager has made new recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners on where cuts to the General Fund should occur. The priorities of the Board remain consistent, aligned with the mission of the county, which continues to prioritize public safety, our communities’ health and well-being and the stewardship of its resources.
“Because of rising costs, the county has been struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing demands on county services,” said Board of County Commissioner Chair Libby Szabo. “We have avoided budget cuts for the past few years, but that is no longer an option. The bottom line is that we have to trim our budgets for 2020.”
“We solicited the feedback of the other elected officials’ as part of our process to be sure we knew the concerns on the cuts that need to be made. We met with each of them to hear their plan and what they felt the consequences of those reductions would be,” said Commissioner Casey Tighe. “We responded by making some one-time adjustments based on the impact to services.”
Even with these one-time changes, the county must reduce the budget by $16.1 million in the next year to balance the budget. To achieve this, the county is requiring budget reductions for 2020 across all offices, departments and divisions whose budget is impacted by the General Fund.
“As part of the normal budget process, these discussions have assisted us in refining our cuts,” said County Manager Donald Davis. “The newly recommended adjustments are one-time reductions and cannot be repeated. County offices and departments will need to make additional cuts in 2021 in the absence of additional revenue.”
The county has put into place cost containment and efficiency programs over the last four years to help make county government do more with less. However, as Jeffco’s population grows, so does the demand on the county’s services and programs. The county has seen an increase in traffic, development, housing and homelessness. In response to these growing demands, the county has had to dip into its reserves to balance the budget, but this approach is not sustainable.
We continue to look for savings and greater efficiencies throughout the county. However, TABOR limits the amount of tax revenue that the county can keep. While demand for services grows, tax revenue that would pay for those services is limited. The loss of this surplus funding has a direct impact on the level and quality of services the county can provide to its residents.“We take our job as stewards of taxpayer dollars very seriously. That’s why we’re also looking for greater efficiencies in how we do business as a county,” said Commissioner Lesley Dahlkemper. “The phrase ‘we’ve always done it that way’ is not part of our vocabulary, and we’re seeing results. We’re always searching for innovative ways to save taxpayer dollars.”
Jeffco wants to hear from the community on what matters most to them and how they would like to see the county address the budget shortfall. For more information on the budget and process, citizens can attend budget hearings, which are open to the public. Updates will be continually posted online, and community members can also see the county’s Financial Transparency Portal on its website. You can also always reach out to your county commissioner. Their contact information is located at www.jeffco.us/663.