Yes. The county has implemented an initiative called Resilient Jeffco in which we are focusing on where our community wants and needs to be down the road, and developing innovative and strategic ways to address the challenges in front of us.
The phrases “business as usual” and “we’ve always done it that way” have been replaced with “how can we do things differently” and “how can we collaborate with other entities outside and within Jeffco.” We are already seeing results from those collaborative and innovative efforts. Some examples include:
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For every dollar the county collects from property taxes, 24 cents remains with the county to provide services. The remaining 76 cents goes to public schools, special districts and cities. Even though property values may increase, the amount of property tax revenue the county is allowed to collect is limited by the state constitution. This limit on the growth of revenue has required the county to regularly spend into reserves, which is no longer sustainable.
The General Fund is the county’s principle operating fund that accounts for the ordinary operating and project expenditures of the county and is financed primarily by property taxes.
The General Fund supports a broad spectrum of county services provided by the Board of County Commissioners, Assessor, Clerk and Recorder, Coroner, District Attorney, Sheriff, Treasurer, and a variety of administrative services such as finance, information technology, and human resources. The General Fund also provides support to other county funds such as Public Health, Social Services and the Patrol Fund.
We have always gone through a process of prioritizing programs and services for the budget, but we've reached a point where we have to try something new. Please see the Timeline details for more information on the prioritization process we are working through now.
That said, our Mission for Jefferson County is “to promote the safety, health and well-being of the Jefferson County community and the stewardship of its resources.” We look to this to let us know what those priorities are. We currently spend approximately 66% on safety, 8% on health and well-being, and 26% on stewardship.
Since 2014, Jefferson County has been drawing down its reserve to address projects and critical one-time needs. The balance in our reserves has now reached a minimum threshold and we must adjust our expenditures accordingly.
This issue has been a regular part of the ongoing conversations during budget development since that time. Several measures were utilized to balance the budget in previous years, but those options are no longer sustainable.