How were the Better Denver projects chosen?
Mayor Hickenlooper appointed an Infrastructure Priorities Task Force in 2006. This task force was made up of 100 City and community leaders. Members reviewed requests from all City departments and after many public hearings and deliberations sent a package of projects to the City Council for approval. Issues B through I represented the projects approved by City Council.
How did the Mayor determine who would serve on the task force?
The Mayor solicited suggestions for Task Force members from his staff and the heads of City agencies, members of City Council, citizens serving on other City task forces and boards and commissions, among others. The Task Force members were active, involved members of the Denver community whose background and experience particularly suited them for this service.
Do certain parts of the City or specific departments have priority over other areas or departments?
No, all parts of the City have infrastructure needs and every department has capital needs. To make the Better Denver list, each project was evaluated on its own merits against the criteria established by the Task Force and subcommittees.
How were projects selected to be considered by the subcommittees?
The City annually prepares a 6 Year Needs Assessment of Capital Projects. The Needs Assessment is a compilation of projects identified by City departments as a result of the following efforts:
Master Plans - such as the Comprehensive Plan, Blueprint Denver, Greenprint Denver, the Game Plan, the Strategic Transportation planning effort, neighborhood plans, facility master plans, and condition assessments. Except for facility master plans and condition assessments, which were technical reviews, all others included extensive citizen input.
The Infrastructure Task Force Study - identified the substantial amount of deferred maintenance in City infrastructure, such as parks, streets, traffic signals and signs, and buildings. While the assessments were prepared by City staff, the standards and recommendations were reviewed and approved by a citizen committee.
City Council, neighborhoods, and citizens made recommendations for needed projects. The initial list of projects developed for consideration from the 6 Year Needs Assessment was formed from these public processes and documents. The task force was divided into subcommittees that were free to add projects that met the legal bond requirements. Emphasis was placed by the Mayor's Office and Budget and Management Capital Planning on the built-up need to address renovation and replacement of current City assets, as well as the built-up need to address equity of service and facilities in certain parts of the City - such as areas that lacked a branch library.
How did the Task Force decide which projects have priority?
At a minimum, each project selected met the following criteria:
1. Projects that provide essential upgrades to buildings or infrastructure components that are critically necessary for the life, safety and health of Denver’s citizens or City workers.
2. Projects that replace or rehabilitate buildings or infrastructure components, or facilities necessary for essential service delivery, that are at, or past, their useful life, resulting in a new or significantly extended useful life.
3. Projects that leverage City capital expenditures with already committed matching funds or significant grants or for which future operating costs will come from funding sources outside the City (such as state, federal or private funding).
4. Projects that will generate significant revenue upon completion or that will result in significant future cost savings.
5. Capital projects that are necessary for delivery of City services key to the quality of life for Denver’s citizens and City workers.
6. Projects that will create a demonstrable increase in key areas of Denver’s economic base.
7. In addition, each programmatic subcommittee developed other criteria appropriate for their area of focus.
How much will this cost a homeowner?
Denver’s property taxes are some of the lowest in the metro area and remain low even after voters approved Issues A through I in November 2007. With the passage of Issues A through I, property taxes in Denver increased only 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for a total of $5.58. The entire plan will amount to an annual property tax increase of $63 on a home with an assessed value of $255,000 (the cost of a median home in Denver in 2008).
Of course, homeowners with more expensive homes will pay a little more, and homeowners with homes that are valued less will pay a little less.
How have infrastructure improvement needs been addressed in the past?
Traditionally the City has put off maintenance for a number of years and then periodically has had to “catch-up” using bond issues to fix up the City’s facilities that have been neglected. But this clearly isn’t the best way to maintain our buildings, parks, streets and walkways. Now, the Better Denver program is providing the City with the money it needs for maintenance every year to ensure that our City’s assets are maintained.
What’s wrong with the old way of doing business?
The old “put-off to later” approach doesn’t make sense from an economic or efficiency standpoint. Every year that necessary maintenance and repairs are delayed, the problem gets worse. If a City building has a leaky roof, delaying a fix means the problem gets worse, as the water damages the roof, ceiling, walls or floors, then future repairs become more costly. If that leak is in the roof over a City employee’s office, imagine the inconvenience. Files and electronic equipment would have to be moved, and the office could become unusable. People can’t work to maximum efficiency in buildings that aren’t maintained properly.