FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, September 15, 2003
Hickenlooper Delivers FY 2004 Budget Proposal to City Council
$70 Million Reduction Plan Averts Approximately 1,000 Layoffs
While Maintaining Critical City Services
(DENVER) Mayor John Hickenlooper delivered his FY 2004 proposed budget to Denver City Council on Monday, a balanced budget plan that maintains critical City services while averting approximately 1,000 layoffs.
“This budget reflects the very tough times we now confront,” Hickenlooper wrote in a letter to City Council and Denver residents that accompanied the budget draft. “It is essential that we are realistic about our revenue forecast, make the difficult decisions, and put the budget crisis behind us. This budget provides a stable foundation from which we can deliver services at the level we can afford and begin building for the future.”
In an effort to avoid the disruptive revisions of overly optimistic revenue projections that the City and County of Denver experienced in 2003, Hickenlooper’s $712.6 million budget is based on a modest projection of 1.1 percent sales tax growth in 2004. Seventy million dollars in total reductions are necessary to balance the 2004 budget, as mandated by the City’s Charter. The budget proposal also maintains a reserve fund balance of $71 million, which is 10 percent of expenditures, a threshold that is important to maintaining the City’s bond rating, enabling the City to borrow funds at reasonable rates.
Hickenlooper established six key priorities as guidelines for his budgeting process:
- Maintain services to the public, especially core basic services
- Minimize job losses for employees
- Reform compensation and benefit practices
- Strengthen economic development efforts
- Improve accountability and effectiveness of government services
- Implement short-term measures necessary to meet immediate financial needs
While the current economic situation requires the City to scale back on many activities, the proposed budget protects core services. Police emergency staffing levels are maintained, implementation of key community-policing recommendations will be ongoing, and fire services will continue at current levels. Public Works will maintain service levels that are necessary to keep neighborhoods clean and well-maintained including trash removal, graffiti removal, street sweeping and large item pick-up. Safety and critical maintenance of parkland will remain the highest priority for the Parks Department. Recreation centers will remain open with only slightly reduced hours; after-school programs and other community recreation programs will continue, with only modest reductions in the number of locations. The Planning Department will continue to implement Blueprint Denver, the plan to integrate land use, transportation planning, and economic development.
“The City’s career service employees have made significant sacrifices to balance the budget and reduce layoffs while maintaining our ability to deliver these vital services,” Hickenlooper said. “I am inspired by their commitment to their colleagues, to their jobs and to the City as a whole.”
The sacrifices being made by personnel include five days leave without pay, contributing two percent of the pension cost, and paying a larger share of their health insurance premium. Additionally, any market survey adjustment will be deferred until January 1, 2005, and merit increases will be frozen in 2004. These personnel cost reductions will avert over 350 layoffs, while non-personnel and agency reductions will avert over 600 layoffs, bringing the total of averted layoffs to approximately 1,000.
Public hearings on the budget proposal will begin in late September. Based on the input from the hearings, the Mayor will submit a recommended budget by October 20 to be followed by an additional public hearing and City Council input. City Council must enact an ordinance making appropriations for 2004 by November 24.
To see a complete copy of the proposed 2004 budget, please visit www.denvergov.org/budget.
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