Periodically, the City and County of Denver authorizes general obligation (GO) bonds to restore, replace, and expand infrastructure and capital assets across the city. GO Bonds are a debt obligation issued by local governments to fund public purpose capital improvements such as roads and public facilities and are backed by the full faith and credit of the city and payable from dedicated property tax mill levies. GO Bonds are proposed and voted on in citywide elections. The city’s last GO Bond initiative was the 2007 Better Denver Bond Program, which authorized an issuance of $550 million to fund capital improvements throughout the city.
The current estimate of bond capacity is $800-900 million (based on a 2016 financial analysis and 2017 property valuation changes). This bond capacity would not require a tax increase.
Residents, businesses, and neighborhoods provided their input on potential improvement projects that they would like to be considered as part of the 2017 GO Bond in November and December 2016. This public input was provided through several options, which included: six community meetings held around the city, via the GO bond website, at a public library or recreation center, and through their Councilmember’s office. Public input will be combined with project ideas identified by City Council, city agencies, and the projects listed in Elevate 2020. The city also received major capital needs from partners, such as city-owned cultural facilities.
Note: The identification of capital improvement needs throughout the City is an on-going and continuous process. The foundational list of projects that are listed in the City’s Elevate 2020 plan are a culmination of input received from the public at community meetings, through email, written comments, etc. throughout the year. Likewise, city agencies and City Council continue to evaluate and assess the need for capital investments that are based on the public input that is provided to the city on an on-going basis.
The projects underwent further evaluation by Mayor-appointed stakeholder committees from March through June 2017. Community members continued to provide input through email that was shared with the relevant stakeholder committees or by speaking in person at stakeholder meetings.
The recommendations from the Executive Committee will move forward to the Mayor for review and consideration. The Mayor will then work with City Council on the final recommended list, which will then move forward to City Council and be processed through formal council hearings in July and August. After that, City Council will refer the final package to the November 2017 ballot.
The list of who was on each stakeholder committee can be found here. In addition, each committee was staffed by city agency personnel to help coordinate the committee’s activities and serve as technical resources where needed.
The stakeholder committee members included 60+ volunteers from the public who come from a diverse range of backgrounds and have a wide range of experience and expertise to help each committee evaluate and balance citywide needs. You can read more about each stakeholder committee here.
Each stakeholder taskforce committee was provided foundational criteria that primarily focused on project readiness, bond funding eligibility (e.g., serves a government purpose and has a 10-year useful life), equity, cost considerations, and critical system needs. Each committee was also asked to identify criteria that help further evaluate each project within their specific committee. You can read more about each stakeholder committee here.
The city is committed to equity throughout this entire process. Geographic and neighborhood equity indicators (socio-economic, health, accessibility to key services, etc.) were part of the foundational criteria that each committee used when evaluating proposed projects.
The Mayor selected community members to serve on six stakeholder committees to help evaluate each eligible project and ultimately make a recommendation to the Mayor on a package of investments that should move forward to City Council and the voters in November of 2017. The six stakeholder committees included an Executive Committee and the following five programmatic areas:
• Transportation and Mobility
• Parks and Recreation
• Arts and Culture
• Safety Facilities
• City-owned Facilities
Each programmatic committee was responsible for providing a recommend package of investments to the Executive Committee based on their review of the eligible projects for their committee. The Executive Committee evaluated the recommendations from all programmatic committees and made a final recommendation to the Mayor in June 2017.
GO Bond investments must go toward restoring, replacing, and expanding infrastructure and capital assets for the city. Only city-owned assets are eligible for GO Bond funding.
The foundation for the 2017 GO Bond will be based on Elevate 2020, the city’s 2015-2020 Six-Year Capital Improvement Plan, which identifies Denver’s major city asset rehabilitation needs and new investment opportunities in capital infrastructure. A list of the projects that are being considered in the 2017 GO bond can be found here.
Every neighborhood in Denver is a unique and special place, and over the past couple of years, we have made intentional capital investments in neighborhoods to enhance pedestrian safety, improve multi‐modal connections, rehabilitate park assets and address deferred Six‐Year Capital Improvement Plan capital needs.
Denver’s city charter mandates a six‐year capital planning process. City agencies identify initiatives or objectives, with the help of public input, facility assessments and neighborhood plans, to be accomplished within six years and list priority projects which support those objectives. The Six‐Year Capital Improvement Plan includes projects that continue major rehabilitation of city assets and new investments in capital infrastructure.
Taxes collected from medical and retail marijuana revenues are part of the City’s overall budget. These marijuana taxes fund the regulation and enforcement of the marijuana industry, as well as education programs to help keep our communities and youth safe. As such, they are typically not used for capital projects.
In 2007, the city determined that a tax increase would be used to increase annual capital maintenance investments. No determination has been made about a tax increase for the 2017 program and this decision will be informed by the public process over the next few months. Any proposed increase would need to be approved by voters.
Denver’s next GO Bond authorization is expected to be presented to voters in November 2017.
Denveright is a current community-driven planning process to help shape the future of our city in land use, mobility, parks and recreational resources over the next 20 years. Denveright plans are expected to be completed in early 2018. The GO Bond will be comprised only of city infrastructure projects that can be constructed in the next few years. Public input from the Denveright initiative will be considered when evaluating potential projects for GO Bond investments.
The Department of Finance is looking into the possibility of whether a component of the bond could be sold in small dollar amounts. As with all financing options, the city will want to ensure it’s cost-effective.
Questions and comments about the 2017 GO Bond can be directed to 2017GOBond@denvergov.org.