By Mike McKibbin / NewsBreak Denver / Sept. 22, 2022
[CASTLE ROCK, COLO.] — The Town of Castle Rock will again dip into its reserve funds to balance the 2023 budget unanimously approved by the town council Tuesday.
Town Manager Dave Corliss said the $315.3 million budget — up from $302.1 million this year — includes:
• $111.1 million for capital improvements;
• $24.9 million for debt, interfund loans and transfers between funds; and
• $179.3 million for operations, including $18.5 million for annual pavement maintenance.
Expected 2023 revenues are $272.5 million. Corliss said capital reserve money will cover the $42.9 million deficit between the total budget and expected revenue, which he called "a common and sound practice."
"The town has long spent money only when we have it," he added. "I'd rather save five cents than spend a nickel."
The 2022 budget-in-brief on the town website noted Castle Rock anticipates using $44.6 million in reserve money to pay for one-time items this year.
Public safety key focus
The town's five-year financial plan calls for the police department budget to grow by 35% and the fire department budget to increase by 39%.
"That means our sales tax revenue needs to grow by that amount, too," Corliss said.
Between 2023-2027, the fire department could need 16 new positions and the police department 15 employees to meet growth demands.
Corliss said the budget would help ensure the two departments meet those and other growth-related needs, such as a new fire station on Castle Oaks Drive.
With Costco, Corliss estimated the town could hire 32 new public safety and three new government positions. Without a Costco, that number drops to 14 over the next five years.
The budget designates an added 5% of general fund revenue and another 5% from the transportation fund — or approximately $3 million — to help meet public safety needs in 2023.
"Our future sales tax growth rate is around 3%, which we think is still a pretty good number and we think we'll continue to see a lot of growth," Corliss said.
The town estimates 900 new single-family homes, 415 multi-family units and 50,000 square feet of new commercial space in 2023.
Town employees get raises; mill levy remains stable
Town employees will receive an average 4% performance-based salary hike; public safety workers will get a 7.5% raise. Health care premiums will not increase for employees or the town.
The town council also unanimously approved keeping the town's property tax mill levy at 1.139 mills. Corliss called that the lowest mill levy for any full-service municipality on the Front Range.
Town financial director Trish Muller told the council the mill levy would cost the owner of a $448,000 home $35 a year in Castle Rock property taxes.
The town council will consider the final approval of the 2023 budget ordinance, along with five-year financial and capital improvement plans, on Oct. 4.