Today, Douglas County is virtually the geographic center of Colorado. The County is approximately 843 square miles, 71 square miles of which are permanently protected land through the Douglas County Open Space Program. Recreational areas include more than 146,000 acres of Pike National Forest, Roxborough State Park, Castlewood Canyon State Park and the Chatfield State Recreation Area.
There are five incorporated municipalities within the boundaries of Douglas County: Castle Pines, Castle Rock, Larkspur, Lone Tree and Parker. Each has its own mayor and provides services in cooperation with Douglas County.
The County’s strength, as the centerpiece of the Denver/Colorado Springs development corridor, is a perfect blend of quality lifestyle and business environment.
Douglas County has plenty to offer to its residents and is quick to respond to their demands.
As part of the County’s collaborative work with other local governments, the Partnership of Douglas County Governments is a notable example. Established in 2002, the Partnership includes the Towns of Castle Rock, Larkspur and Parker, the Cities of Castle Pines and Lone Tree, Douglas County, the Douglas County School District, Douglas County Libraries and the Highlands Ranch Metro District. A nationally recognized model of collaborative statesmanship, the Partnership has successfully sidelined individual agendas in the interest of working collaboratively on issues, projects and programs for the greater good of Douglas County.
The County’s vision, “Setting the Standard of Excellence in Local Governance,” is continually top of mind for County leadership. And while service delivery is one primary role for Douglas County government, it is only one aspect of a total problem-solving approach to governance that requires citizen engagement for total effectiveness.
Counties in Colorado are a constitutional subdivision of state government. Their boundaries, which are set forth in statute, were drawn by the General Assembly. Initially, counties were created to carry out the programs and policies of the state. These functions have grown over the years to encompass many policy and operational areas not contemplated 100 years ago. Counties can exercise only those powers specifically expressed in statute or in the constitution.
Under state statute, counties are responsible for law enforcement, which includes supporting the courts system and the district attorney function as well as providing jail facilities through the sheriff. Counties are responsible for providing the state’s social services, including administering and carrying out virtually all programs overseen by the Colorado Department of Human Services. Counties may provide health services, although their ability to do so depends on resources available. Counties are responsible for road and bridge construction, maintenance, and repair. Finally, they control land use in the unincorporated areas.
Counties have a vast number of other responsibilities, ranging from weed control to restaurant inspection, virtually all of which are traced to state legislation. In certain instances, such as liquor licensing, siting, and operation of landfills, and pest control, counties and state government have co-authority. Additional responsibilities are delegated to other county elected officials, such as the treasurer, assessor, coroner, clerk and recorder, surveyor, and sheriff.
Counties have the power to incur debt, enter into contracts, and receive grants and gifts. Counties can incur either revenue debt (based solely upon a specified revenue stream) or general obligation (G.O.) debt, which constitutes a general obligation of the local government to repay the debt. Some counties also enter into lease-purchase arrangements (as an alternative to debt financing) to build major facilities such as justice centers. (Source: Colorado Counties, Inc. – CCI) For more information about the structure of counties in Colorado, please visit CCI website.
For most purposes, Douglas County acts through its Board of County Commissioners (BCC). The three-member board acts, by majority vote of a quorum present, to adopt ordinances in those limited areas for which specific authority has been given by the State Legislature, and to adopt resolutions to conduct all of its other business.
The BCC performs legislative, executive and quasi-judicial functions. The Board serves as the legislative, policy-making and administrative body governing the unincorporated areas of Douglas County.
The BCC appoints a County Administrator to carry out the policy directions of the Board and to supervise and coordinate the work of the staff in the departments that fall under direct control of the Board. With the exception of the County Attorney, the County Administrator will have line authority over all County divisions under the BCC.
The County Attorney is a constitutionally prescribed county office. By statute, the County Attorney is a position that is filled by appointment of the BCC. The County Attorney’s Office provides legal advice and representation for the BCC. The County Attorney, with the approval of the BCC, also advises and represents all other Douglas County elected officials, the County Administrator, department and division heads, and appointed commissions, boards and committees.
Other County Elected Officials
The other constitutional officers elected to four-year terms are the County Clerk and Recorder, County Assessor, County Treasurer, County Sheriff, County Coroner and County Surveyor. Constitutionally and statutorily, they are independent from each other and from the County Commissioners. Their powers and duties are prescribed by state statute. The County Commissioners have no direct authority over the other elected officials in the county except that commissioners approve budgets for all other elected officials’ departments.
Demographics – 2014
- Population estimate for Jan. 1, 2014: 302,464
- 90 percent of the population lives in urban areas which is 17.5 percent of the County land area
- 10 percent of the population lives in rural areas which is 82.5 percent of the County land area
- Incorporated towns and cities estimated populations
- Castle Pines – 10,443
- Castle Rock -50,028
- Larkspur – 191
- Lone Tree – 11,097
- Parker – 46,042
- The housing growth rate in 2011 was 0.9%.
- 2014 Budget Book
- 2014 Budget in Brief
- Board of County Commissioners Policy Manual
The Board of County Commissioners Policy Manual includes: County Goals Policy; Governance Process Policy; Management Limitation Policy; and Board of County Commissioners-County Manager Delegation Policy.
- More About County Government in Colorado
- Douglas County’s Vision and Mission
Citizen Survey Results
Incorporated Feb. 12, 2008, Castle Pines is located just 20 miles south of Denver in Douglas County and is home to about 10,500 people. The 21st century city has a vision that balances the preservation of the community's history with growth that enhances the quality of life for its citizens.
The City of Lone Tree was incorporated in November 1995 and became a Colorado Home Rule City on May 5, 1998. It is governed by Council-Manager form of government where Council sets the City policy and the Manager is responsible for City operations and has an estimated population of approximately 11,385 residents.
The Partnership represents 296,000 Douglas County citizens in the unincorporated and incorporated areas of the county. Almost 90% of the population lives in urban designated areas of the County. In one-on-one conversations, service transactions, and community meetings, Partnership members are face-to-face, listening and responding to constituent needs every single day. We know our communities and their priorities and we are willing to share what we know in the interest of working with one another as a team, acting in the public interest and focused on the greater good of Douglas County, Colorado.
Castle Rock, the County seat, is a historic mining and ranching area that incorporated in 1881. Today, the Town's council-manager form of government serves approximately 53,466 residents.
The Larkspur area began as a resort and eventually was incorporated in 1979. It has a population of approximately 200 people.
The Town of Parker was incorporated in 1981. The newly incorporated area encompassed approximately one square mile and included 285 residents. In the first decade of the Town's history, the Town increased from one square mile to 13 square miles. Since incorporation, the population has increased from 285 to more than 47,000 today.