Boulder City Council on Tuesday agreed to adjust its 2022 budget by about $19 million, primarily to account for additional revenue from the American Rescue Plan Act and the voter-approved extension of the city’s capital infrastructure tax.
Typically, the city schedules two such adjustments — one in May and another in November. However, additional adjustments are allowed because of extenuating circumstances such as an influx of money from a new source or unexpected expenses in an emergency.
The City Council agreed to spend about $4.8 million in its federal relief funds on a variety of projects such as the exploration of a guaranteed income pilot program, which would provide a flexible, regular cash payment to low-income residents, and a project providing daytime programming and services for people who are ready to be housed or who have been recently housed through Homeless Solutions for Boulder County.
In terms of ARPA funds, Boulder is set to receive about $20 million. Half of that came through in July 2021, while the remainder is scheduled for this coming July. The money must be committed by the end of 2024 and actually spent by the end of 2026.
Additionally, the Council is beginning to allocate money from its community, culture, resilience and safety tax, which Boulder voters overwhelmingly agreed to extend in November.
The tax is a 0.3% sales tax meant to fund capital infrastructure projects.
More than $66 million in capital infrastructure projects were previously identified as immediate needs. However, the city needs to do additional work to prioritize projects for funds it will borrow and pay back using the tax revenue.
With the approved budget adjustment on Tuesday, the city initially plans to use $450,000 of its capital infrastructure tax revenue on new “constituent relationship management” software that would help Boulder track and manage its interactions with residents and ideally improve those interactions.
“This would be a complete replacement of our current system,” Senior Budget Manager Mark Woulf said in the meeting.
An additional $650,000 will go toward a new data platform to help the city better streamline and automate data analysis.
Further, it will use $550,000 for transportation projects, including the 30th Street multimodal project and safety enhancements at 28th Street and Colorado Avenue.
While some of the funding approved on Tuesday comes from new revenue, the city also is moving some money around as well.
For example, more than $2 million is being redistributed to cover expenses related to the Dec. 30 Marshall Fire, which swept through eastern Boulder County, and the windstorm that led to it.
The city’s Open Space and Mountain Parks, Parks and Recreation, Housing and Human Services and public safety departments all incurred expenses, including overtime for Boulder Fire-Rescue and Boulder Police as well as costs for trailhead restoration work and debris removal.
“Many of our departments provided support to not only our neighboring communities but some response within the city of Boulder,” Woulf said.
Up to 75% of those expenses are likely reimbursable under the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but that can take up to a year, the city noted. The money is needed now to ensure the departments have an adequate budget.