Arapahoe County is moving full-speed toward the future

BY FREDA MIKLIN
GOVERNMENT REPORTER

On June 29, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) of Arapahoe County held a State of the County breakfast event at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds located at 25690 E. Quincy Avenue in Aurora. 

BOCC Chair Nancy Jackson opened the gathering by sharing that Arapahoe County is presently the third largest county in the state of Colorado and is expected to be the largest within the next decade. She said the current budget is $451 million, half of which is funded by property taxes. She pointed to the challenge of funding county programs, in part because of TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights of Rights passed in 1992), which requires voter approval for any new or increased taxes. 

Commissioner Nancy Sharpe told the 250 people in attendance that the county helped 112 small businesses “faced with crippling financial losses” in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic with $4.5 million in relief grant funding, in addition to $2.5 million in general business support. She added, “We also distributed monies from the American Rescue Plan to fund these grants and help our economy recover.” Looking toward the future, Sharpe announced, “So as to ensure that we are on a stable path to managed growth….we are kicking off an economic development campaign to showcase the county’s strengths and our most important ambassadors, our business owners and leaders.”

Commissioner Carrie Warren-Gully, appearing virtually, told the crowd that the county provided emergency rental and mortgage relief during the pandemic three times faster than the national average. Arapahoe County also provided $7.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds to 1,071 households to assist with food, day care, medical and other critical needs. Warren-Gully shared that the number of people experiencing homelessness in Arapahoe County “more than doubled from 2020 to 2021.” To address that growing need, she reported that, “We are working with more than 40 local agencies and municipalities to take a regional approach to homelessness…that will manage resources, leverage partnerships, and collaborate to provide enhanced access to services. No one organization, city, county or town can do this alone.”

Warren-Gully touched on the scientific cultural facilities district tax, “a tiny tax that does big things.” Last year, she reported, 80 local arts and cultural organizations in Arapahoe County received a total of $2.3 million in funding, representing a 35% increase over 2020.

Finally, Warren-Gully shared that the Arapahoe