Lone Tree to enter ‘planning year’ in 2020

City plans to reinvest in current assests in next year’s budget

Posted 11/25/19

The City of Lone Tree is approaching a “planning year” in 2020, officials said, following a year of heavy investment in capital projects. The 2020 city budget reflects investment in the city’s …

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Lone Tree to enter ‘planning year’ in 2020

City plans to reinvest in current assests in next year’s budget

Posted

The City of Lone Tree is approaching a “planning year” in 2020, officials said, following a year of heavy investment in capital projects.

The 2020 city budget reflects investment in the city’s current assets, such as the police department and city-wide initiatives to improve pedestrian safety, to save money for capital projects needed down the road.

Deputy City Manager Kristin Baumgartner said the boom in development the city saw in 2019 has allowed Lone Tree to rebuild some reserves for future needs. The most notable capital project of 2019 was the opening of the three new light rail stations south of Lincoln Station. The city saved money for years in preparation of opening of three stations, which officially opened May 19.

“Next year’s a little bit of an off year in the sense that we know that growth on the east side (east of I-25) is probably not going to start until 2021-2022, based on applications we’re aware of,” Baumgartner said.

The 2020 city budget of $74.1 million in total revenue was reviewed by Lone Tree City Council on first reading Nov. 19. The budget is expected to be voted on Dec. 3 and implemented in January.

The city does not collect property tax and is solely reliant on sales tax revenue for 63% — or $28.6 million — of its annual revenue. Funds received through intergovernmental partnerships totaled $11.3 million. The Lone Tree sales tax rate is 1.8125% and total sales tax is 6.8125%

Lone Tree is feeling the pinch in sales tax revenue growth that other Denver municipalities have felt in the past five years. From 2011-15, the city’s sales tax revenue rate grew from 4.6% to 6.5%. Since 2015, the rate of revenue growth remained relatively flat, with the exception of 2018, when the city annexed the OmniPark Metro District. Lone Tree expects a 0.2% uptick in sales tax revenue growth in 2020.

To view the whole budget, visit CityofLoneTree.com, search for the agenda for Nov. 19 and download the PDF attached to the agenda item for the 2020 budget.

Capital outlay will make up about a third of the city’s total budget with 47 new projects laid out for 2020. The most expensive project will be continuing construction on RidgeGate Parkway, which has $8.9 million appropriated for 2020. The city originally budged $26.9 million for the project and expect to have spent $11.6 million of that by the end of 2019.

Overlay and reconstruction projects have $2.2 million appropriated. The city plans to undertake overlay and concrete replacement along Lincoln Avenue from I-25 to the city’s western boundary, a 2.5-mile stretch of road that is mostly six lanes wide.

The project to implement adaptive traffic signals — a project shared by Centennial, Greenwood Village and Lone Tree — has the next highest price tag with roughly $1 million allocated. A pilot program for the adaptive traffic signals will monitor traffic volume and adjust the stoplight in real time and is expected to launch in 2020.

The guiding document for the city’s policy directives comes from the city’s “Six Big Ideas,” which outlines the city’s goals to be a national model in public safety, transportation, community, culture, business and government.

“The priority for council really is in those six big ideas, and you can see the biggest chunk of our budget went to public safety, which is a growing and important part of a growing community,” Mayor Jackie Millet said. “We had a very proactive approach to transportation…It’s one of the most fundamental things you can do. First, you make sure people are safe, then you make sure goods and people can get in, around and through your community, and it’s not just one way.”

The city budgeted $755,000 for improvements to the road and traffic signal at Crooked Stick Trail and RidgeGate Parkway.

Baumgartner said investing in the police department was a high priority for the city as recruiting qualified officers becomes increasingly difficult in the Denver area. The STEM School shooting illustrated a need for more safety in the area, Baumgartner said. On May 7, a student shot and killed another student with a handgun in a classroom at the STEM School Highlands Ranch, a school many Lone Tree residents’ children attend.

“With everything that continues to happen in our community, with the STEM shooting and the attention to safety Douglas County is taking in the school district, we want to make sure we’re doing our part in that area,” Baumgartner said. “There was a big focus on that and keeping our good employees and being competitive.”

The city appropriated funds for its 25th anniversary celebration for next year. Other unique expenditures include budgeting for city elections, which will take place May 5.

The city will hire for several new positions in 2020 as well, including a community development planner, and a “holding” position for a school resource officer, a reserve fund for a potential SRO to be placed at either Eagle Academy, an alternative high school, or Ascent Classical Academy, a K-12 charter school.

“I continue to feel really bullish about the way we are going about allocating funds and the thoughtfulness everyone is bringing forward knowing revenues will be flat, or have the potential to be flat,” said Mayor Pro Tem Cathie Brunnick, “so the work that everybody did to make sure we stay within those guidelines and rebuild the capital reserve was impressive.”

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