2024 Budget in Brief

The 2024 Approved Budget totals $515.4 million across all funds, including Governmental, Enterprise, Internal Service, and Capital Improvement funds. The 2024 Operating Budget of $374.2 million represents a 5.5% increase compared to 2023, mainly due to key year-over-year changes, including: the voter creation of a Boulder Library District that reduces operating costs, the subsequent programming of available resources to meet our commitments in service expansions, and continued investment in city employees to ensure a competitive and effective workforce. The 2024 Capital Budget of $141.2 million represents a 12.2% decrease compared to 2023, primarily due to the realignment and timing adjustments of several Utilities capital projects and existing capital projects continuing to expend from current appropriation. The 2024 General Fund Budget totals $196.1 million, representing a 4.1% increase from the 2023 Approved Budget. The 2024 Recommended Budget proposes $21.1 million in total enhancements, including making permanent investments in critical areas, such as wildfire resilience, behavioral health response programs, day services center operations, and housing support. A summary of budget enhancements can be found on the 2024 Budget Highlights page.


In addition, the 2024 Budget includes a change in budgeting practice for capital bond proceeds, which impacts Utilities-related capital projects in 2024. Taking this into account and excluding Utilities, the total 2024 Recommended Budget is a 5.5% change from the 2023 Approved Budget.


The Budget in Brief provides a breakdown of citywide sources, or revenues, and uses, or expenditures, within the 2024 Recommended Budget.

Sources (Revenues)

Citywide Sources

The 2024 Approved Budget is based on projected citywide revenues of $461.9 million, representing a 6.0% decrease from the total revenues included in the 2023 Approved Budget. Revenue projections included in the 2024 Approved Budget represent a moderate economic outlook, including reduced sales and use tax projections and a decline in collection on development and impact fees. In addition, a reduction in one-time project-specific grant revenues represent one of the primary drivers of the year-to-year decrease.


Several economic factors were considered during 2024 budget development, including: inflation slowing and the subsequent impact on sales and use tax revenues, national and regional slowdown in retail sales, and the State of Colorado experiencing a tight labor market compared to the rest of the nation.


A significant upcoming tax expiration is the 0.15% General Fund sales tax, which is planned to expire by December 31, 2024 unless renewed by voters. This is a critical tax to fund core General Fund operations, and staff is currently in the planning phase of seeking voter renewal of the tax. Budget projections for sales and use tax always exclude revenues tied to future voter action, therefore, the 0.15% General Fund sales tax has significant impact on the 2025 budget and beyond. Voters will consider a ballot question in November 2023 seeking to extend the tax with 50% of the total revenues dedicated to arts, culture, and heritage.


Additional detail on the City's primary funding sources, sales & use taxes and property tax, can be found on the 2024 Budget in Brief - Continued page.


Combined Budget Summary - Sources

The total revenue budget of for 2024 is $461.9 million, which differs with the total sources within the below Combined Budget Summary table because the total revenue budget of $461.9 million excludes Internal Services funds and transfers between funds, with the exception of the transfer to the Medical Insurance Fund. Internal Service funds and transfers are excluded to avoid double-counting revenues in originating and receiving funds. Thus, the total revenue budget figure of $461.9 million reflects the total anticipated revenues to perform city services for the 2024 fiscal year.

Citywide Sources excluding Utilities

Citywide Sources, excluding Utilities, represents a total of $362.9 million. The chart below represents citywide revenue sources without Water, Wastewater, or Stormwater and Flood Management Utilities Funds. These three funds are excluded in this total because utility rates are based on direct usage of the water, wastewater, and stormwater systems and are not reflective of economic conditions. Excluding Utilities, the two largest revenue sources for the city are sales and use taxes and property tax, representing 65.6% of total revenues for the 2024 Approved Budget.


General Fund Sources

The 2024 Approved Budget is based on projected General Fund revenues of $200.5 million, which represents an 20.1% increase from total revenues approved in the 2023 Budget. This increase is largely due to the anticipated increase in property tax, with an increase of 32% in valuations of real property. Property tax continues to be a stabilizing force in 2024 that provides a steady stream of revenue for the city, which comprises 25% of all General Fund revenues.

Uses (Expenditures)

Citywide Uses

The total 2024 Approved Budget is $515.4 million across all funds which represents a less than one percent change from the 2023 Approved Budget. There are several structural changes that are reflected in the way that the city calculates expenses from previous years, including the following:

  1. The voter creation of a Boulder Library District that reduced operating costs and resulted in the repeal of the .333 mill levy beginning January 1, 2023. This change is reflected in the reduction of the Library Department from the operating and capital budget. The subsequent programming of available resources were used to meet city commitments in service expansions in 2023 mid-year adjustments and therefore incorporated into the 2024 budget, such as funding to support the Homelessness Day Services Center, behavioral health programming, and anticipated debt service for the Western City Campus at Alpine Balsam capital project.
  2. The city continues to demonstrate commitment to staff through several important investments, including living wage increases for City of Boulder employees as well as contractors, salary increases for public safety and union personnel through renegotiated and approved contracts, and building upon annual increases budgeted for performance merits for non-union staff in the organization.
  3. In addition to 2023 mid-year investments, the 2024 Approved Budget includes additional investments in supportive programming for the city's most vulnerable residents through prioritizing behavioral health, the new Day Services Center, and funding for affordable housing.

As a continuation of an enhanced budget process, the Budget Office worked with departments to analyze base budgets in greater detail to ensure adequate resources to maintain current services. A few factors drive the increase of the base budget, including the impact of inflation, insurance cost increases, and strategic investments in city staff and staffing capacity. While there is a positive impact on revenues from high inflation, certain projects and services are also experiencing increased costs. In 2024, the budget includes an increase to support higher contractual obligations in maintenance and other contracted services.


Additionally, this year departments submitted outcomes that were in alignment with the City’s Sustainability, Equity, and Resiliency Framework and identified potential measurements to demonstrate success. This is an ongoing process for the improvement and transparency of the prioritization of use of City funds.

Combined Budget Summary - Uses

The total budget of $515.4 million, referenced above, differs with the total uses within the below Combined Budget Summary - Uses table, totaling $618.1 million, because the total budget figures exclude Internal Services funds and transfers between funds. Internal Service funds and transfers are excluded to avoid double-counting expenditures in originating and receiving funds. Thus, the total budget referenced above of $515.4 million reflects the true cost of the organization's operations by excluding double-counted expenses between funds, and reflects total anticipated expenses of performing city services for the 2024 fiscal year.


Additional detail on the City's key budget assumptions and a summary of all funds subject to appropriation can be found on the 2024 Budget in Brief - Continued page.

Citywide Uses, Excluding Utilities Funds

The 2024 Approved Budget, excluding the three Utilities Funds, totals $400.4 million, representing a 5.5% increase from the 2023 Budget. The figure below represents citywide expenditures without Water, Wastewater, or Stormwater and Flood Management Utilities Funds, which are supported through user fees. The below graph does include some expenditures aligned to the Utilities department but not funded out of the department's three enterprise funds.

General Fund Uses (Expenditures)

The 2024 Approved Budget is based on projected General Fund expenditures of $196.1 million, representing a 4.1% increase from total 2023 General Fund Approved Budget. This increase is attributed to strategic investments in organizational and community priorities such as Homelessness Services, Behavioral Health Response, Safe & Managed Public Spaces, continued investments in city staff, and community funding for underrepresented populations.


Largest year-over-year increases in the General Fund include the Housing & Human Services Department, Facilities & Fleet Department, and the General Government program. New and enhanced investments in the Housing & Human Services Department include supporting additional community grants funding and behavioral health programming. Increased capital maintenance enhancements are included in the Facilities & Fleet Department to support additional staffing and critical maintenance needs. The General Government program supports citywide expenses, primarily comprising General Fund debt service payments, interfund transfers, as well as base cost rentals across multiple funds supporting leases associated with the Boulder Municipal Property Authority Fund.

Staffing Levels by Department

The 2024 Approved Budget includes a total city staffing level of 1,509.13 full-time equivalents (FTEs), an decrease of 3.4% from 2023 Revised staffing levels; this includes a total decrease of 86 FTEs from the Library, which will now reside in the Library District. There are also additions of 31.50 FTEs across 10 departments. These staffing increases reflect strategic staffing capacity increases for new and enhanced community investments and programs. A calculated estimate of 190.93 non-standard staff, or seasonal and temporary employees, is included in the 2024 Approved Budget, mostly within the Open Space and Parks & Recreation Departments. Non-standard staff provide a needed supplement to standard staff on a seasonal basis, largely in the summer.

Historical Staffing

One measure of personnel cost pressure is the size of city staff, which is measured by standard full-time equivalents (FTEs). The 2024 Approved Budget includes a citywide staffing level of 1,509.13 FTEs. As seen in the chart below, the city manages staffing levels in connection with changing economic conditions and revenue projections. The overall net decrease in 2024 is due to the removal of 86 FTEs related to the Library District.

Additional information can be found on the 2024 Budget in Brief - Continued page.