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Hey, guys, #Boulder city council is still happening tonight. It's just about to start: a 7 p.m. meeting so council could have its annual sister cities dinner. They're downstairs; sounds like they're having fun.
Tonight's study session will cover the city's finances, including $375M in unfunded projects, both immediate and long-term wishlist items.
The second item is a report from the Sexually Violent Predators Working Group, which is making 8 recommendations for things like housing, community education and outreach, and responsibilities of council.
Last week we had @sampweaver in a bolo tie; this week it's @bobyatesboulder in a bowtie.

Bold fashion choices, both. Lovin' it.
Weaver is running things, as Mayor Jones is absent.
City Manager Jane Brautigam shares that the rules for the citizen police oversight task force is done. The city will start accepting applications this week, she says.
We're really moving through this budget discussion. Gonna just throw out some quick facts.
For every $1 in retail sales tax, Boulder gets 44 cents.
Of that, 20c goes to general fund
Open space: 9c
Transportation: 9c
Parks & Rec: 3c
Community, culture and safety tax: 3c
For every $1 of property tax, Boulder gets 14 cents.
Of that, 9 cents goes to the general fund.
A further 2 cents is sent to the general fund for Public Safety expenses.
Library gets less than 1 cent.
Parks & rec gets 1c.
Community housing assistance program: 1c
Q from Weaver: If we want to reallocate our property tax (like, send more to library and less to general fund) do we have to ask voters?
No one knows; City Attorney Tom Carr is going to look it up.
Brautigam weighs in: Every allocation but the General Fund is fixed and requires voter approval to change, but the GF allocation can just change during the budget process. No ballot item required.
This slide on the General Fund budget is interesting if you want to check it out: www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/Revenue_a…
Some tidbits: 37% of the GF goes to public safety; 6% to our energy strategy (I assume that includes or is entirely muni?) 5% to human services; 3% to parks & rec; 5% to library and arts
As I mentioned earlier, $375M in unfunded needs. There are 6 categories the city has sorted its unfunded needs into (and here are the totals for needed $ that I added up):
Critical facility investments: $188.79M
Increased community demand: $59.425M
End of lifecycle technology replacement: $6M
Climate initiatives: $5.025M
Improvements of public space amenities: $63.163M
New city biz/service: $54.48M
Workforce recruitment/retention: $2.5M
These needs have also been sorted into immediate (need paid for in 2019 or 2020), intermediate (2021-2024) and long-term (2025 or beyond, or projects with no particular timeline.
By urgency, here are the unfunded needs:
Immediate: $48.406M
Intermediate: $204.909M
Long-term: $125.668M
I'll have a full list of projects in my story later. There are some interesting ones in there.
Council is talking a lot about the relocation of Fire Station No. 3. They bought some land on 30th St. for $9M last year. The project is costing roughly $7.5M more than originally anticipated: the land cost more than 2x as expected, and construction costs went up by $3M.
City did buy more land than needed on 30th Street. That can be sold or used for affordable housing, Brautigam says.
The old Fire Station No. 3 land (by Scott Carpenter) is in the high-hazard flood zone, so it can't be used for much of anything. It didn't flood in 2013.
For the city's immediate projects, money has been found from various places (excess funds, one-time $ in 2020 budget, capital improvement plan in 2020) for $23.4M. But $25.1M are still completely unfunded.
That includes things like raises to keep city employees at a living wage; the middle-income housing program, PERA adjustments, keeping the library running at its current service level, expanding transit, etc. (Again, there will be a full list in the article.
Or you can see pages 13-18 of the council packet: www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/2019_04_0…
Also, this is probably the first time the word "swag-iest" has ever been used in council chambers. (I think SWAG is a budget acronym, but let's just pretend it's not.)
The $204.909M in intermediate unfunded needs include things like the relocation of two more fire stations; operating budget of the NoBo library; having the fire dept. take over more EMS; and something I've never seen discussed: a $4M "refresh" of the Pearl Street Mall.
Also: $18M to buy open space at CU South, and $11.08M to replace/convert 11 HOP buses to electric ones.
The fire station relocations are estimated at $20M each.
Given what staff said about how hard it was to find land for No. 3, no idea where No. 2 and 4 are going to go.
Brockett: Not all the needs are "absolutely critical to the city."

For instance, one of the "immediate" needs is $700K to re-install doors on the east side of the municipal building (where council chambers are), a pet project of Morzel.
That's part of the process of tonight, Doelling says, to help us prioritize spending.
Q from Yates: We haven't committed to any of the things on this (intermediate) list?
No, Doelling says, no commitments yet to these items.
Weaver points out that on some projects, like sub-surface (sewer/water) and surface infrastructure at Alpine Balsam ($12M estimated cost), the city won't be responsible for all of that, depending on who/what goes on that land.
Young asks the question I posed earlier about relocating two more fire stations and the challenges of finding land.
"We're looking, even now," says fire chief Michael Calderazzo. "It's a tough market. We're exploring what may be available in the next 3-5 yrs."
"We need a funding source if opportunity hits us."
Land acquisition costs were increased for Stations 2 and 4 after the experience with No. 3.
Morzel: That brings up the issue of, why move?
Calderazzo: If we could rebuild or expand on existing sites, we would.
"We cannot expand the size of the bay, we cannot go up. We can’t add out: it’s at the property line right now. We cannot use the station for any more personnel then we have in there today." (Calderazzo on Station No. 2
Station No. 4 (previously a house) is built out on the lot, too, he says. "It barely fits the truck it has in there today and doesn’t allow for any type of wildland response."
Morzel asks about the "open space campus" (at an estimated $8M): Where did that come from?
I similarly had no idea what that was.
Morzel: "I'd like to put some brakes on that."
Yates: "This kinda feels like wishlist of everything everyone could think of."
Wants staff to do some prioritization.
Brautigam: "I just really have to push back on that." This is not a wishlist, she says, but a list of "things that ppl truly want," whether that be the public, boards & commissions, or council. "There are plenty of wishlist items that are not on this list."
"These are things that some important person in the city has really made an effort around."
Idea for open space campus is to redevelop the offices at Cherryvale. Open space board is working on this; maybe adding a community room or open space museum. Campus is the wrong word, she says; it sounds "too high-falutin."
Side note: Is that how you spell falutin'?
Yates says he wishes staff would have prioritized the list or made further recommendations to council; that's why they're getting into long discussions on individual items.
We're skipping a bit of staff's planned presentation so council has time to discuss. Joel Wagner, special projects tax manager, is talking about 2018 year-end numbers.
Retail sales tax was up 2.8% last year. Projections for the next few years are pretty close to that (ranging from 2-3% per year) UNLESS there is a recession. Then they are projected to grow less than 1% or actually decline before picking back up to 2-3%.
Reminder: Online sales are now taxed at the state level, but it's going to take some time for cities to figure out how to capture that revenue. It's *incredibly* complex.
Wagner: "We're working toward it."
Some reasons sales tax is declining in Boulder: Ppl are shopping elsewhere as other cities improve their downtowns; ppl are shopping online; and our population is aging. Older ppl buy fewer things.
If there is recession and our sales tax declines (budget doesn't plan for that) city will dip into its reserves to pay for core services.
OK, now council is going to talk priorities for the immediate and intermediate unfunded needs.
OK, jk: Council is going to focus on immediate needs.
Morzel: "I want to start out with the big elephant in the room, and that's Alpine Balsam. I wonder if we should start on the path we're on now. We never anticipated expenses that are there now."
"I thought we would reuse the hospital and sell off the land. As we continue down the path, we're digging a hole that we cannot get out of."
Going through the costs: $40M to buy; $58M to renovate the Pavilion; $16M to tear down the hospital.

"It's far more than I think any of us anticipated. I think we call it good and get out." Wants to sell the property ASAP.
Still talking: "What really kind of jumped out at me is there are all these building and city building needs, and very little put into residents needs. Somehow, that needs to be balanced. I’m a big housing advocate, but as we continue to add housing, we have to add services."
Carlisle: "It is a rather shocking number, for city staff offices. Particularly when we are postponing $1.3M for Vision Zero needs. As I drive around the city and look at potholes not to mention the state of our pedestrian needs."
She agrees with Morzel.
Whoa, guys. Whoa.
Brockett: "I agree that safety of our residents needs to be high on our priority list. I do think we need to pay more attention to the state of our streets. Looking around as I walk and bike and drive, I feel like we're not (something) of our infrastructure."
He says he has been getting "increasingly concerned" with the "dollar amounts" for the hospital site. "I don't know what the exit path would be, but I think we should explore it."
"I'm not seeing us get the amount of value to the city that we would need to put in."
Yates agrees. "Alpine Balsam alone" is almost 1/3 of the amount of $$ we're talking about spending in the next 5 years.
"I don't necessarily want to dispose of the Alpine Balsam property, but I think we need to have a big step back here."
Young agrees.
Also points out that there is an item in the immediate need list for roads. $3.6M for transportation operation and maintenance.
"The numbers are staggering" on the hospital site, Young says. "Maybe we sell, maybe we put it on a longer time horizon."
Nagle jumping on the bandwagon. "My one concern if we do let go of Alpine Balsam is control. I just want to make sure if we do sell it, it doesn't end up being boxes of high-density (housing) that doesn't serve the community."
Asks about what the city will do for the two office buildings that need to be majorly renovated and/or relocated.
Doelling responds that it will be cheaper in the long run to build new rather than finding new spaces to rent. "Those buildings need to be vacated."
Yates disputes that, saying that the repayment costs don't calculate everything. "You actually never get your money back."
Weaver: I don't disagree that we should be looking closely at Alpine Balsam. There's a few reasons we did what we did; $40M wasn't taken lightly. "It was land banking."
The whole idea was that we could control the outcome, not only from a design perspective but an affordability perspective. It was done for good reasons."
"Dollar figures promote sticker shock, for sure." But some of that land will be sold off to private developers, he notes, once it's ready to be built on. "There's still value, I think, in being able to control what goes at that site."
Morzel is saying that council "doesn't give direction at study sessions."
Kind of confused what they're doing tonight, then, by saying what their priorities are.
"I want a public hearing. I want a place where council can legally direct staff to do X, Y, Z."
Yates: Big decision to make here is whether and how to deconstruct. "Bulldozers are rolling now, this summer."

BCH is moving out May 1. There was an IP put out this week giving a timeline/cost estimate for deconstructing the hospital at Alpine Balsam.
Bulldozers are not rolling now, Brautigam says. It takes months to get ready.
Doelling says that some of the $$ city was going to direct to Alpine Balsam in the near future was an adjustment to base, which is being considered at the May 7 meeting (which does have a public hearing.)
Young: There are other things we can do to still have control over what gets built on the site.
But it sounds like the deconstruction needs to happen, she says.
Morzel: I'm still not convinced it needs to be deconstructed.
"It makes no sense to me to take down something. That’s one reason I didn’t vote for 311. They build hospitals like they build ships. They’re very well constructed."
I feel like I remember that there was asbestos in the buildings... ?
I'm sure that can be abated, but idk.
Brautigam: Early estimates to keep the hospital and renovate are $175M. Which is more than we're talking about here.
Carlisle asking for a report on 311 Mapleton.
A non-Alpine Balsam priority from Brockett: Funding operations at the soon-to-be-built North Boulder library.
Weaver reminds him we're focusing on the 2020 budget.
His personal priority is Fire Station No. 3. "It's a life safety issue, we've been planning it for a long time."
Nagle's priority is Long's Garden. City wants to spend $4.8M to purchase a conservation easement there. (I haven't followed this issue closely, so I can't really say why they think that's a good idea. But maybe it was in danger of closing...?)
Council wants to prioritize the roads. Weaver suggests taking off middle-income housing, not bc it's not important, but bc he thinks they can do it without using additional city funds.
Long's Gardens won't be budgeted in 2020 either, per council feedback.
Also, city might start considering marijuana tax revenue as ongoing, rather than one-time. It was in the one-time bucket bc city was never sure what was happening at the federal level. But with so many states legalizing medical marijuana, they feel OK about it now.
Now debating about Boulder's goal of 20% reserves by 2020.
Weaver not a fan, but he's gonna go along. Carlisle not a fan either, but also agreeing if it's understood that there is flexibility.
Young: I think reserves in the time of climate change are important.
City has said that its high levels of reserves helped Boulder recover more quickly from the 2013 floods.
Clarification to earlier tweets about online sales tax: Boulder *is* getting some of it. Amazon and "other large retailers" are voluntarily collecting it, Wagner says.
Should point out that it was Yates who made that clarification from the dias.
Doelling: "While this is seemingly shock and awe, this is an introduction to a conversation that is going to be iterative." It's meant to take pieces of study sessions, meetings and put it together for council.
That wraps budget discussions. Please unroll, @threadreaderapp. Thank you!
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