Recently, social media has been buzzing about cuts being made that impact the Jeffco Sheriff and Jeffco Fairgrounds.
“Officials says $5.5 million in budget cuts prompted the plan. The sheriff’s office also closed a floor of the jail to reduce staffing levels, as part of the directive.”
“The jail also now has a 1,148 bed capacity compared to a previous 1,392 capacity.”
“Mark Skelter, the advisory committee chairman, said operating the Jefferson County Fairgrounds costs about $1.8 million per year. The operation does recoup about $500,000 by charging to use the facilities, according to Skelter, meaning the county would save about $1.3 million each year if it is shut down.”
Online, folks were asking about debt. There was no debt in the General Fund for Jefferson County. The county has balanced its budget every year. Past boards of county commissioners drew down on the reserves to help cover escalating and necessary costs. However, this is no longer an option. The reserves can’t dip below a two-month minimum, which is where we currently stand. What’s more, we had $32 million in surplus, but it’s over our TABOR cap. The county must refund those dollars to taxpayers. Unlike many other counties that have de-Bruced, including DougCo, we can’t reinvest surplus dollars in public safety, roads, other essential county services or even rebuilding our reserves because we don’t have voters’ permission.
All of this was why we were asking people to vote Yes on Jeffco’s 1A initiative in November 2019.
From our original public comment – http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/jeffco-ballot-initiative-be-prepared-to-join/, you’ll note that we mentioned $16.1 Million in cuts to all County services. In addition to our public safety services, Jeffco Center for Mental Health, Tobacco Free Jeffco, child care assistance, food assistance, housing assistance, medical assistance, library services, 4H programs, and WIC.
Essentially, what has happened in Jeffco is this: In addition to growth and property value increase, because grants and funding from other sources also impact the TABOR cap, Jeffco has to give money back to the voters. Because the cost and time involved to give back money is also tremendous in such a large county, the previous commissioners just decreased the amount of money they were taking from property taxes. The approved mill levy for county services is approximately 22 and Jeffco has gradually just reduced the mill to 18 (even though 22 is approved!)
These are the cuts that were advertised and what we can expect when we say no:
$5.4 million in cuts to public safety
$10.1 million in cuts to other county services
$0.6 million in cuts to health & human services
One more thing to consider, these are the cuts for this year. What will the cuts be for next year?
“If you want to pay for a Pinto, you can’t expect a Cadillac.”