Frequently Asked Questions

The County has been struggling to meet the increased needs of citizens since before the COVID pandemic. The Board of County Commissioners has been seriously discussing its options since 2019, but had to shift focus in 2020 to address public health priorities. Over the past couple of years, federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) helped to temporarily relieve budget shortfalls. However, all that funding dries up this year. The County must identify a sustainable funding solution or it will be forced to make significant cuts to services across every department.

There are three basic alternatives the County is potentially considering and would like to hear your opinion before making a decision. All spending of such revenues would be reported annually in the County's independent audit and published on the County website.

County Property Tax
Without imposing a new tax, ask voters to approve a ballot measure permitting Arapahoe County to raise its mill levy back to its pre-TABOR level, costing the owner of a $500,000 home about $13 more per month and providing the County about $74 million each year. Find how much a property tax measure would cost homeowners by using the residential property tax calculator.

County Sales Tax
Ask voters to approve a ballot measure adding a new 0.25 percent sales tax in Arapahoe County that is estimated to cost the average county household about $4.30 per month and raise about $45 million each year.

Cuts to Essential Services
Make $35 million in immediate cuts to essential services such as public safety, roads and homelessness prevention and response programs. Leave the $316.6 million of deferred maintenance and unmet needs affecting road safety, quality and congestion unaddressed.

While property values did increase significantly this year, the County reduced its share of property taxes by 29% — leaving $74 million uncollected. This is always how the County balances its budget. Rather than issue tax refunds to stay in compliance with TABOR, it adjusts the amount it collects to begin with. Residents get a “refund” before they ever have to pay.

If you are 65 years of age or older and have owned your home for 10 years or more you may be eligible to have 50% of the first $200,000 in actual value exempted from property taxes. This has helped to provide financial relief to many older adults in our community. Please visit the Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption page to learn more.

Of all the tax revenue paid by property owners, the County keeps only 12% to provide mandated and essential services such as the Sheriff’s Office, motor vehicle, public health, housing and homelessness and services for Veterans and older adults. To put it into context, the County only gets $32/month for a home valued at $500,000. That $32 is spread thin across dozens of services we provide residents each and every day. The remaining 88% of property taxes paid by the residents of Arapahoe County are spread across 500 other taxing districts (cities and towns, school districts, utility districts, etc.).

The 2024 budget is $543.1 million, most of which comes from property taxes.

As part of the Colorado Constitution, counties are required to offer certain key services to its residents. Those include:

  • Sheriff’s Office (law enforcement)
  • Public Health services (like restaurant, child care, and pool inspections and disease management)
  • Human services (programs that protect at-risk kids and adults)
  • Motor vehicle services (license plates)
  • Construction, maintenance and repair of roads and bridges, and general control of land use in unincorporated areas

Arapahoe County has always balanced its budget, but that means that many critical projects have been deferred. Right now, the County has a $316 million backlog within Public Works for critical maintenance and transportation projects. That number will only grow without new funding. And that’s just one example. Federal funding has made local affordable housing construction and services possible. As that money dries up this year, those programs will be cut unless additional funding is identified. Inflation has affected the County just like it has our residents — the needs still have to be addressed, but the costs continue to rise.

A property tax measure would allow the County to keep about $74 million it credits back to taxpayers each year to invest in essential services. Eliminating the refund could cost taxpayers about $2.62 a month on every $100,000 of residential value.

Yes, Arapahoe County maintains $1.55 billion in roads, bridges, and other transportation assets within unincorporated Arapahoe County to provide residents with a convenient, accessible, and safe transportation system. This new funding would help address the backlog of public works projects for roads, bridges, traffic and pedestrian safety improvements prioritized over the next five to ten years.

The County uses a performance management program called Align Arapahoe to track and improve operations on a continuous basis. The program monitors a set of performance goals related to three overarching areas: fiscal sustainability, essential and mandated services, and a focus on community.

Residents can view the Align Arapahoe performance dashboard to see if goals are being met or exceeded, if they are close to target, or are below target. Data is updated each quarter and is reviewed by staff and elected officials to make any adjustments if necessary.