Boulder residents on Tuesday will have their first opportunity to comment on the city’s proposed $341.2 million budget that reflects the continued challenges facing Boulder due to the economic downturn from the coronavirus pandemic.
The proposed 2021 budget includes $28.5 million in reductions, marking a 7.7% decrease from the approved 2020 budget. The economic crisis affected some 70% of Boulder’s revenue sources, including an expected 11% decline in revenue from sales and use taxes. The city uses those funds for safety, roads, parks, housing and human services, libraries and communication.
According to documents from the Oct. 6 meeting packet, the proposed budget includes cuts to programs, services and jobs, along with furloughs for most employees and no merit increases for nonunion city employees, members of the Boulder Municipal Employees Association and members of the International Association of Firefighters.
Emergency personnel will not be furloughed and members of the Boulder Police Officer’s Association will be the only employees to receive a raise due to a contract that mandates it.
City employees will also face changes to their health care plans and may experience higher deductibles and more out-of-pocket expenses.
In a budget message, City Manager Jane Brautigam acknowledged the challenges facing the city and called 2020 an unprecedented year.
“The COVID-19 crisis brought harrowing decisions, along with economic hardships Boulder has not experienced in a long time,” Brautigam said in the message.
The budget, called “conservative” by Brautigam, was first proposed and discussed in a Sept. 8 study session. The Boulder City Council is hosting the first public hearing on the matter Oct. 6. The second will be Oct. 20.
In the Oct. 6 agenda packet, city officials said they considered reductions strategically, looking at impacts to service while using guidance from the City Council budget focus and the Rapid Response Equity Assessment Tool. However, the proposed budget will impact all departments.
“With that approach, rather than an across-the-board reduction strategy, the percentage reductions by department will vary,” the budget notes.
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