Submitted by Allison Wittern
The proposed budget for 2023 and 2024 as well as a multiyear Capital program for the City of Centennial has received unanimous approval by City Council,. The 2023/2024 package is the first biennial budget to be adopted by the City.
“The biennial budget strengthens the City’s alignment with City Council’s strategic goals and direction, community needs and priorities,” said Centennial City Manager Matt Sturgeon. “While allowing for flexibility to make adjustments as the needs of the community change, the budget provides a roadmap for Capital Improvement Projects, programs and service levels the City anticipates accomplishing in the next two years to achieve the goals set forth by City Council. The objective of the budget document is to fiscally position the City to operate efficiently and effectively in delivering services that provide exceptional service to the community.”
The City Manager’s Budget constitutes the legal authority of the City to appropriate and expend public funds. Additionally, it serves as a communications and operations guide for the community by detailing strategic projects, service levels and programs that fulfill the policy direction of City Council. The components of the budget work together to deliver on the City’s vision of being a connected community where neighborhoods matter, education is embraced, businesses are valued, and innovation is absolute.
Fiscally Healthy and Debt-Free
General fund revenues for 2023 are budgeted at $76.2 million and $77.96 million for 2024, an increase from the 2022 adopted budget of 7% in 2023 and 2% in 2024. When compared to general fund expenditures, general fund revenues remain in a strong position, leading to an operating margin (revenues less expenditures, excluding transfers out of the General Fund) of $15.6 million. The budget contains expenditures for all City funds of $152.8 million in 2023, an increase of 7% over the 2022 adopted budget, and $129.4 million in 2024.
Total budgeted expenditures exceed total budgeted revenues due to the use of fund balance to pay for anticipated large capital improvement projects. The use of fund balance to balance the budget is a result of the City’s practice to save for capital projects instead of incurring debt which results in expenditures exceeding revenues in certain years. As required by the Centennial Home Rule Charter and the Colorado Local Government Budget Law, each fund in the adopted budget is balanced. Following Council direction, major capital projects are funded with the use of cash, and as a result, the City remains debt-free. The healthy condition of the City’s fund balances confirms the continued fiscal health of the City.
Street and Corridor Improvements
With a commitment to ensuring Centennial’s transportation network provides alternatives for safe, efficient and reliable movement within and through the City, a significant portion of the budget is reserved for several roadway investments and improvements, including:
Funding also is re-budgeted for ongoing projects or those that will not be completed in 2022, such as the replacement of the Arapahoe Road Bridge over Big Dry Creek currently underway and the implementation of a wayfinding and identity program for the City, among others.
Strategic Retail Transformation
Building on 2022 discussions and funding, the biennial budget identifies funds for the implementation of a Retail Center Transformation Program to facilitate improvements in the City’s retail centers and support the City’s sales tax base. In total, this program is anticipated to be a $5-million implementation tool for the City’s retail strategies, with $1 million in 2023 and 2024 and $3 million identified in the General Fund Committed Fund Balance for future years.
Further Investments in Public Safety, Health and Housing
Building on the City’s strong partnership with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, the 2023/2024 budget includes continued and increased investments to ensure Centennial remains among the safest cities in the United States. The budget includes funding for an additional Behavioral Health Response Program Clinician and associated equipment costs within the Sheriff’s Office, expanding the Behavioral Health Response Program to six clinicians and a program manager.
Funding for a three-year pilot program to provide a coordinator for homeless services through an intergovernmental agreement with Arapahoe County also is included in the budget. Subject to an annual workplan developed by the City and under administrative direction from the County, the coordinator will work with regional partners to implement an intentional, collaborative approach to rehousing and providing necessary supports and opportunities to people who are currently unsheltered.
Quality of Life for Residents and Neighbors
At the direction of City Council to evaluate the potential to provide older adult and youth services in partnership with a local nonprofit agency, the budget includes startup funding for 2023, and ongoing maintenance funding in 2024, to develop an agreement with the YMCA to provide activities, programs and special events for older adults and youth in Centennial.
To assist in resolving disputes between neighbors, the City plans to fund contracted mediation services on a limited basis to offer an alternative perspective for residents that protects the City from liability and exposure if staff were to become involved.
As the City’s short-term rental program continues to grow among residents offering vacation rental space on their property, the 2023/2024 budget includes funding to support ongoing turnkey services to help City staff manage licensing and regulation to protect the health, safety and residential character of Centennial neighborhoods.
Service Delivery Innovation
Funding is proposed to innovate how the City delivers services to the community. Among them are virtual building inspections and court services. Virtual accommodations for these services were required during the COVID-19 pandemic and resulted in increased service levels by eliminating travel time while providing more opportunities for flexibility for residents, contractors and attorneys. In 2023, the City plans to formalize these services and provide funding for technology to support fair and accessible virtual service delivery.