July 19, 2018

An Economic History of Golden

A little side project: tracking Golden’s economic history. Google has a very cool tool called Gapminder (which they bought from the remarkable Hans Rosling) that’s ideal for displaying complex data over time. Based on a simple dataset (sales and use tax generated by commercial district in Golden, total sales and use tax, and total general fund revenus), and with some help from someone savvier than I at databases and code, and with help getting the data from Golden’s rock star Finance Director Jeff Hansen, I created a visualization of change over time in the importance of each sales district to Golden’s overall economic health.

http://vimeo.com/35852352

The visualization shows how Golden’s commercial districts have changed in relative economic importance over time between 1994 and 2009. It’s pretty simplistic because of the data I had to work with, and because the city’s overall sales and use tax revenues track pretty closely to overall general fund revenues the bubbles all move in a very linear fashion over time. But even this very simple visualization shows some interesting things, like the change in importance of outside dollars, the rise of South Golden Road, the rise of Corporate Center, and the relative stability of Downtown Golden as an economic center over time.

I couldn’t figure out how to make the visualization itself accessible on the web, so I created a screencast showing each of the elements. The screencast first shows you the normal Gapminder display, which is very cool. Then it shows you the underlying line graph. Finally, it shows you two versions of the bar graph visualization. The entire video is about sixty seconds long.

You could do some really interesting things with these data and this display, like swapping out either the x- or y-axis with other data like the number of business licenses in each district in that year or the overall city population (which has grown steadily at times and unevenly at other times), treating sales tax and use tax independently from one another, or tons of other approaches that I haven’t thought of. You’d probably see some different and interesting relationships.

This little project underscores the value of making the city’s data as readily available to community members as possible. It’s trickier than you might think, since much of it isn’t digital and isn’t stored in the most accessible manner, but the city has a lot of data that might be of interest or of use to community members, and there are tons of people in Golden cleverer and more skilled than I at doing interesting things with data, so I’m hoping City Council and city staff will start looking for more ways to push these datasets out and see what folks come up with.

2010 Budget Summary

The Citizens Budget Advisory Board and the city’s Finance Director do a great job putting together a summary of the city’s annual budget. It was in the May issue of the Golden Informer, but just in case you missed it or want a recap, here are some of the highlights:

  • Golden is a “full service” city, meaning that the city itself provides most of the services residents and businesses use. This includes police, fire, water, wastewater, storm drainage, and flood control. In many cities, those services are provided by separate districts.
  • The city’s total 2010 budget is about $47 million.
  • Of the city’s total projected revenues in 2010, sales and use tax make up 31%, property taxes are 11%, charges for services is 30%, and utilities charges amounts to 18%.
  • Our total projected sales and use tax revenue in 2010 is about $14.6 million, one-third of which has to be used for capital improvements. This is the reason that the city is always able to invest at least something in improving streets, sidewalks, and other capital projects even when revenues drop.
  • Only 14% of your property tax bill goes to the city. Most of the rest funds the Jefferson County School District and Jefferson County.
  • Because we have a largely volunteer fire department, our fire department budget is much smaller than it would be otherwise. We have four fire stations across town staffed by 11 paid staff and more than 80 volunteers.
  • Our police department has 42 sworn officers and 18 full-time staff. They responded to 64,689 calls in 2009.
  • Golden’s water system includes 108 miles of water mains, 834 hydrants, eight pump stations, nine treated water storage tanks, three raw water reservoirs, and one interbasin tunnel. The system provides nearly three million gallons of water to residents each day. Our wastewater system has 78 miles of sewage lines.
  • Our Parks and Recreation Department offers 253 acres of parkland, 20 miles of trails, 377 acres of open space, two indoor swimming pools, a water park, five tennis courts, two skate parks, an RV park, a highly rated public golf course, and a world-class kayaking course.
  • The city maintains a Moody’s rating of A-1 for our water bonds, a Standard & Poors rating of A for our sales and use tax bonds, and an AA- rating for our drainage utility bonds.

Jacob's Golden Update: Sales and Use Tax Update

Jacob’s Golden Update: July 13, 2009

1. Some Tough Choices Ahead: Sales and Use Tax Update
2. Courts Reject Councilor Weaver’s Lawsuit Against Golden (Again)
3. The New Beltway Proposal: Still a Really Bad Deal
4. Golden Vision 2030 Block Parties Coming Up:  Heritage Road West, Heritage Road East, and Golden Hills/Golden Heights Neighborhoods
5. Golden’s Community Garden Cuts Ribbon and Makes the Denver Post
6. The Junior Arch
7. Emergency Road Repair At Heritage Road and Colfax Under Way
8. Meet Our New State Representative (Representative Max Tyler)
9. Leadership Golden Applications Due 8/1/09
10. The Colorado Municipal League Conference
11. Blog Roundup
12. Other Upcoming Events
13. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, July 16

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[Read more…]

Jacob’s Golden Update: Sales and Use Tax Update

Jacob’s Golden Update: July 13, 2009

1. Some Tough Choices Ahead: Sales and Use Tax Update
2. Courts Reject Councilor Weaver’s Lawsuit Against Golden (Again)
3. The New Beltway Proposal: Still a Really Bad Deal
4. Golden Vision 2030 Block Parties Coming Up:  Heritage Road West, Heritage Road East, and Golden Hills/Golden Heights Neighborhoods
5. Golden’s Community Garden Cuts Ribbon and Makes the Denver Post
6. The Junior Arch
7. Emergency Road Repair At Heritage Road and Colfax Under Way
8. Meet Our New State Representative (Representative Max Tyler)
9. Leadership Golden Applications Due 8/1/09
10. The Colorado Municipal League Conference
11. Blog Roundup
12. Other Upcoming Events
13. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, July 16

**********
[Read more…]