omg... It's budget time!

I've already heard from three people that are speaking a the public hearing, so I'm stoked. Get stoked!
Not a lot of notes on this besides my story (which is mostly just numbers, but hopefully presented in a helpful way).…
And the staff presentation, which is just the highlights.…
As I wrote, council didn't have any recommended changes at first hearing Sept. 28. And will likely have none tonight.

So although I'm grateful for your participation tonight, don't expect anything to actually change.
This is pretty typical. Staff puts together this budget over a course of months (they start in April) and council just kinda adds stuff back in at the end. Not a lot of control or change there.

Several candidates for council spoke to that this year.
As has outgoing council member Adam Swetlik. They all would like to see council get *more* involved and shape the budget from an earlier time.
There's not a *ton* of room to play around with the budget, bc so much of it is dedicated: Nearly 70% of all the city's $$$ is tied to specific departments, programs, services, etc.
The remaining 30% is discretionary, but it pays for pretty much everything that keeps the city running: All the admin stuff, police, fire, library, arts, etc.

Still, with a $462M spending plan, that represents millions of dollars.
Staff (and me) compared 2022 planned spending to 2019, rather than 2021, because the pandemic through so much off. Still not a lot of change between 2019 and 2022. No huge jumps in dept. spending that can't be explained by big projects or restructuring.
Cops are still the single biggest source of discretionary spending for the city (aside from utilities, which pays for itself) and the biggest dept by staff.

25% of the general fund and 14% of all city dollars.
Transportation is also 14% of all city $$, but it has a bit of dedicated funds. That is, money that has to be spent on transportation.

Ditto for OSMP, which gets 100% of their budget from dedicated funds, and Parks & Rec, which is 70% dedicated.
Some council discussion on arts funding. The dept would like a budget of $2M and 6 employees, says Matt Chasansky. They're at just over $1M now.
Wallach: "I seem to have misplaced $64M."

Our budget is $462M, but the line items add up to $526M. What's the discrepancy?
That's interesting, bc when I tried to adjust the 2019 overall budget for inflation (to compare to 2022) it was around $526M. But I wasn't sure I was doing it right, so I didn't include that.

Staff explaining the difference now.
Kara Skinner: That $462M is avoiding double-counting, for when we transfer $$ between departments. (Wallach was looking at a chart of budgets for various city funds)
Wallach asked another q that I missed, but it's about Housing and Human Services. Comparing those budgets year-to-year is hard to do, bc they get so much of their $$ through adjustments to the base budget, not in the original budget process.
That is to say, the HHS budget grows over the course of the year. They aren't budgeting for all the $$ they'll get upfront. This is bc development projects come in at different times.
Wallach: Is there any other dept that has the same variability?
Skinner: Transportation. And a lot of capital projects.

Which is why year-over-year capital spending is also hard to compare. Very project dependent.
Kurt Firnhaber: Our cash-in-lieu payments typically come mid-year, so it's hard to anticipate what income we'll receive. It ranges from $3M-$13M a year. We try to be conservative in our initial budget.
Wow. 7 members of the public signed up to speak. I'm proud of these 7 and disappointed in the rest of you.
Although to be fair I *did* say that speaking won't change much. So your apathy is understandable.
I mean, *I* wouldn't be here if I didn't have to be.
Nicole Speer speaking. Not tweeting, bc I wanna be careful about the amount of press I'm giving candidates. Just my rule: Don't tweet any candidates' testimony during election season.
Too bad, bc it was good testimony.
No shade, but I think more CC candidates showed up to speak on the budget in 2019....
Brian Marron from Boulder Fire-Rescue is here. Concerned about cuts to the water rescue budget of the fire dept, which responds to 30 incidents a year, on average.

"We will no longer be providing these services as of Jan. 1, 2022," Marron says.
"If the funding is not restored, which is less than 7/1,000th of the city budget for next year," we will be forced to sit and watch rather than rescue Boulderites who fall through the ice, or slip into the creek, Marron says.
Ryan Bonick, echoing Swetlik's frequent sticking point: Why does the new budget get decided by the outgoing council? We'll have new elected officials in two weeks.
Bonnick also asked for more $$ for bike infrastructure, less for police.
Kari Palazzari, from Studio Arts Boulder: We always say in our budgets that arts are important, but we don't give them much $$. We're glad to be at pre-pandemic levels, but that's not where we want/need to be. Adjusting for inflation, we should be at $2.3M — $800K more.
Many dept have funding not only for restoration but for new programs/services, Palazzari says. "Please don't leave arts and culture behind."
Kathleen McCormick picks up on that thread: Arts gets 1/3 of 1% of the budget.

"Please consider spending more now. We need to prioritize arts and culture ... to make strategic investments in artists and organizations."
Deborah Malden, from Create Boulder, asking for $500K extra for the arts and culture office. "City council enthusiastically adopted the cultural plan in 2015." Now you need to fund it.
"Every dollar invested in the arts strengthens the social fabric of our community and ripples throughout the economy," Malden says.
Friend asking about cutting the water rescue team from the 2022 budget. How are we going to do water rescues?

Chief Calderazzos: We'll respond to water rescues. But OT for training for sub-surface divers is being cut.
Calderazzo: Water rescue is actually a bunch of dif types of risk — swift water, like the creek. Sub-surface would be, like, the Rez or a deeper body of water. We've traditionally had a dive team that we train for $30K.
So we're cutting our own ability to respond with divers, Calderazzo says. That doesn't mean divers won't respond. We have some volunteer divers we've contracted with in the past.
But we're still covering swift water rescues.
Friend: Do we have regional coverage for this?
Calderazzo: Yes. There's one dive team in the county, the volunteer squad already mentioned.
Young: How many swift water rescues vs. sub-surface, dive-type rescues do we have on a given year?
Calderazzo: There are more swift water related rescues than sub-surface.
Calderazzo: One of the things we looked at was how many ppl would be affected by this risk, and how often? We plan to return with more analysis in the spring.
Brockett: Are you OK with this cut? Are we still meeting the safety needs of the community?

Calderazzo: If I had more $$, I'd prob spend that on swift water first, before the dive program.
"Even if we restored funding ... I would still want to come back and say the bigger risk is swift water. That would be for next year," Calderazzo says.
Fire-rescue budget in 2022 is $23.4M
Wallach: Do you have discretion within the dept to shift funds around?
Yes, is the answer from many staff. But only kinda.
Nagle: "Is this too late for us to fix this now? This is kind of ludicrous. It is the health and safety of our community."
Weaver: I consider this a dept. head decision. They know better than we do.
"I'm a little hesitant to micromanage."
Calderazzo: $30K doesn't sound like a lot. But "we blow our budget every year" with overtime.
Hiring more staff to alleviate overtime... "That's the highest and best need for us," Calderazzo says.
Yates: "We're approving a complex $462M budget. I don't want to micro-manage any dept. Far be it from us to come in with just a few min of review and upset all the work that's been done."
Yates: If the chief comes back in a few months and needs that $$, we can do an adjustment.
Moving on. Brockett says RE: arts funding that "this is a restoration budget." Doesn't want to add $$ back right now, but happy to do that through later adjustments and future budgets.
Council discussion over. Already voting on the budget. Again, no recommended changes. They didn't even add anything back in to the budget, like in past years.

But, again, everyone being cautious bc of COVID.
Which is v much still here, btw. Could keep impacting sales tax over the winter, for sure.
Wallach: "I'm v pleased we've been able to restore as much as we have."
Weaver to arts folks: You really need to look at the discretionary $$ to see how much we're spending on arts, bc that's all council has control over. We aim for 1%.
Unanimous vote adopts this $462M budget for next year.
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More from @shayshinecastle

20 Oct
Sorry to have left you hanging last night, #Boulder. Here is your Wednesday morning recap from city council.

First, investigation into the Pearl condo fires is ongoing. Should know the cause by today or tmrw.…
Longmont's Teresa Taylor Tate will be Boulder's new city attorney.…
Boulder passes $462M recommended budget for 2022 with zero changes.…
Read 5 tweets
20 Oct
Ok, last thing, and it should be quick: A special ordinance to reduce the amount of open space required at Diagonal Plaza, to allow more housing there.

Or, easier to understand, is this story from when council discussed this in July.…
Nothing much has changed since then. Planning Board OK'd this unanimously.

Under the change, 15% open space required on the site. — will be satisfied with a park, community garden
Read 29 tweets
20 Oct
Another quick public hearing: Some biz license changes.

Kinda boring, but I'mma tweet it anyway. Staff presentation:…
One of the changes is for Marijuana key holders
City requires application and fee every time a marijuana retailer makes an employee a “key holder” - a person who can perform specific duties.
“Keyholder shall include any person with managerial authority in the business, and any person that has access to lock or unlock the safe, to lock or unlock the business, or set or disarm the alarm” (Boulder Charter)
Read 18 tweets
20 Oct
Interesting. New Boulder city attorney is going to be Teresa Taylor Tate, deputy city attorney of Longmont.…
Surprising, since acting interim city attorney Sandra Llanes also applied.
And I kinda just assumed it would be her.
Remember: There was no public q&a or meet-and-greet with the three recently announced finalists, unlike the last round of finalists or the city manager hiring process.

Only one person at the public hearing tonight.
Read 15 tweets
20 Oct
Oh, yeah, and this bit on changing parking hours at city open space.

Currently 11 p.m. - 5 a.m. no parking; some places midnight - 5 a.m.
Now all OSMP areas 11 p.m. - 5 a.m. unless otherwise posted
Allows "OSMP to manage parking hours at night at specific parking areas where persistent and significant visitor safety issues and natural resource impacts result from illegal activities taking place at night.”
Flagstaff is main area.
Growing concerns over “at night, illegal use of marijuana and alcohol on open space, trespassing and other serious criminal activity have increased in recent years” and “OSMP rangers have also observed an increase in litter and trash ...
Read 8 tweets
20 Oct
We're moving into open comment, but I think I'm gonna thread some things from the consent agenda (which is after this, but won't really get discussed).
Notably, Boulder is getting its part of a settlement with pharma co. who fueled (and profited off) the opioid crisis.

We got an update on this Aug. 24.…
But more details now.
Settlements still being worked out, but all told, Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson are being forced to pay $22.8B.

Colorado expected to receive $400M over 18 years
Read 12 tweets

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