The Wheat Ridge City Council unanimously approved our budget for 2023 and I’m proud to say the economic state of our city is strong, despite some unforeseen challenges since 2020. Revenues have performed significantly better than estimated and commercial and residential development activity continues to thrive. Federal financial assistance of over $10 million in CARES and ARPA funding has provided additional resources to address impacts on the community from the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant funding of over $50 million between 2020 and 2023 and Urban Renewal Authority bond funds in the amount of $37.5 million are enabling the city to invest in capital public improvement projects across the entire community.
The 2023 Proposed Budget conservatively projects an optimistic future for the city in the near term. Revenues are projected to continue to increase but at a slower pace than in the recent past. Commercial and residential development will remain strong in Wheat Ridge but is likely to slow which will result in a decrease of one-time revenues generated by construction activity. Inflation continues to remain high, increasing the city’s costs for goods and labor. Some uncertainty does exist concerning the future of the economy; however, Wheat Ridge has built a strong foundation, as we discussed recently in a Neighborhood Gazette article, and should continue to remain resilient against future challenges. The 8-0 unanimous vote by city council of the budget leverages that strong financial position to invest in capital improvement projects, open spaces, and the city workforce.
Major budget highlights include $20.9 million to finalize the first phase of the Improve Wadsworth project, which includes public art. There’s $1.5 million dedicated to bike and pedestrian improvements along 35th Avenue, and over $7 million in park and recreation facility improvements.
The 2023 Proposed Budget includes an increase of 6.5 full-time employees, including five full-time, benefited lifeguards to replace variable part-time positions which have been proven difficult to staff. This will help keep our beloved community pools open at a level that meets resident demand. Typically, the city operates with a very lean staff; however, as community expectations change, we must ensure the city has adequate staffing to meet those demands.
Passing this budget is a huge win for Wheat Ridge and will allow us to continue moving our city forward towards a better, more vibrant future.
With the support of the entire city council, the newly adopted budget will go into effect on Jan. 1.
Contact Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker at email@example.com or 303-235-2800.