When it comes to the county budget, Douglas County commissioners have placed the largest emphasis on public safety and transportation in recent years. That will remain true in 2018, although even …
When it comes to the county budget, Douglas County commissioners have placed the largest emphasis on public safety and transportation in recent years. That will remain true in 2018, although even more focus will be shifted to transportation after community surveys found residents are increasingly concerned with traffic and congestion.
Commissioners approved the $390.8 million budget for 2018 on Dec. 12, in which $197.7 million is for ongoing operating expenditures and $156.8 million for one-time costs.
“I do remember starting to go through this in March,” Commissioner Lora Thomas said of the 176-page document. “I have been very amazed by all the work and how everyone has pulled together.”
The county has been working to create the 2018 budget since March and finalized the document in early December. Most of the commissioners' discussion took place in their regular work sessions, but assistant budget director Martha Marshall gave one last presentation Dec. 12 before the board unanimously approved the final product.
Most important, Marshall said, is that it's a balanced budget, something required by state law.
The budget also includes some new features for the upcoming year, namely the creation of a new “infrastructure fund,” which Marshall said is meant to heighten spending transparency, particularly as it pertains to transportation.
Like the name suggests, the fund will support major transportation infrastructure projects using property tax dollars. Before its creation, the money would have been placed into the county's general fund where, because of the general fund's size, the money “gets kind of hidden or lost,” Marshall said.
From the infrastructure fund in 2018, $15 million will go toward improving U.S. Highway 85 from Highlands Ranch Parkway to County Line Road and $5 million will help relocate the west Interstate 25 Frontage Road, located south of Castle Rock.
In total, $151.9 million of the budget will be utilized for roads and transportation infrastructure. Commissioners hope this will speak to the more than 70 percent of community survey respondents who did not believe traffic congestion in the county to be improving.
Marshall, an integral part of the budget process, said she is proud of the numerous financial partnerships between the county and governmental agencies or organizations across the state. The full budget document is available on the county website, douglas.co.us.
“All departments, all elected officials,” Board of County Commissioiners Chairman Roger Partridge said during the budget meeting, “we really appreciate the financially conservative approach.”