Breaking down Centennial's 2019 budget

For now, city's finances cruising along, with eye on tech

Posted 1/21/19

Taxpayers get the bang for their buck in Centennial: parks, trails and transportation all get notable nods in the city's 2019 budget, which city council approved in amended form on Jan. 7 after …

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Breaking down Centennial's 2019 budget

For now, city's finances cruising along, with eye on tech

Posted

Taxpayers get the bang for their buck in Centennial: parks, trails and transportation all get notable nods in the city's 2019 budget, which city council approved in amended form on Jan. 7 after adoption in November.

The city's effort to add sidewalks and connect traffic signals to Centennial's fiber-optic cable system — an underground network that, in part, helps sync lights with traffic flows — moves forward in a financial climate for the city that has remained steady from last year.

Here are some major takeaways from the budget.

Infrastructure projects mount

At about 18 years old, the young city remains debt-free for another year, but the budget acknowledges that Centennial may run into shortfalls in the years ahead.

“Centennial currently has far more capital needs than resources to fund them,” the budget reads. “More than 80 percent of the land within the city is currently developed, and much of the infrastructure has been in place for more than 25 years.”

Centennial's capital funds are spent on infrastructure for transportation and safety, along with maintenance of city facilities like the Centennial Civic Center.

The city projects a need of about $106 million in anticipated projects from 2019 to 2028, according to Allison Wittern, city spokeswoman. She then discussed the general fund, the main pool of city money.

“It's difficult to predict the capital project 'gap' at this point, but it's safe to say the general-fund revenues are growing but at a rate less than operating expenditures and (infrastructure) needs,” Allison said.

The gap could be $20 million to $30 million in the long range, and the city is re-examining financial policies this year. As a result, some reserves could eventually fund those future needs, Allison said.

Rubber meets road

The city has rolled out projects on a laundry list of streets and intersections in recent years — from County Line Road in the south, to Quincy Avenue in the northeast part of town — and funding on some projects continues in 2019.

A program to replace existing sidewalks and add new sidewalks where they're currently missing is expected to see funding through 2023. One area getting updates is South Liverpool Street near East Arapahoe Road, right by Grandview High School.

At the northwest edge of town, the city plans to widen East Orchard Road in the area of the High Line Canal and add a sidewalk — currently, only the Greenwood Village side of the street has a walkway.

The uses of the city's fiber network for traffic purposes, referred to as the Intelligent Transportation System, will enable Centennial and surrounding cities to coordinate during accidents and more actively time traffic lights. The ITS is already actively timing lights on some roads.

On that project, the city installed 64 cameras at intersections and connected 39 signals to the master signal system — with around 40 to go — last year. Work continues on it this year.

Centennial is working on a project to install the system for South Yosemite Street, from Lincoln to Belleview avenues, to help coordinate traffic lights along a stretch of the road that's become a viable alternative to traffic on Interstate 25. Lone Tree and Greenwood Village are partnering with Centennial on that push.

More recreation updates

Parks and trails are among what residents like most about Centennial, according to recent city surveys, and the 2019 budget doesn't disappoint on that front.

A quarter-million dollars will go toward the Lone Tree Creek Trail, which, when finished, will stretch from East Broncos Parkway near Centennial Airport all the way to Cherry Creek State Park. It will pass Centennial Center Park along the way and link up with several other trails at its north end. Last year, the city poured about $5 million into the project. The first phase of construction, and more design work, will begin this year, Wittern said.

Centennial Center Park also gets $200,000 for new construction, repairs and maintenance, a project that will total $1 million through 2023. It could include landscaping and new projects identified in the city's parks master plan, the budget says.

A small sum of $50,000 goes to neighborhood trail connections, after allocating nearly $190,000 for that push last year. The project will build “regional, neighborhood and local trail connections,” the budget says.

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