First fiscal plan is balanced, responsible and maintains current service levels
DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock today submitted a balanced 2012 budget proposal to the City Council that will maintain current service levels at libraries and recreation centers, grow the city’s financial reserves and help strengthen Denver’s economy.
“Despite four years of economic crisis, Denver is successfully weathering the storm thanks to responsible fiscal management, tough but necessary decision-making and thoughtful stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” Mayor Hancock said.
“This is a lean budget and it is not without pain or sacrifice,” Mayor Hancock said as he unveiled his administration’s first spending plan. “But it provides both flexibility and stability, and by building on successful strategies of prior years, it will serve as a blueprint for a better, faster, stronger city government we can all be proud of.”
Mayor Hancock’s proposal closes a $100 million shortfall through a combination of efficiencies and savings ($62.4 million) and revenue enhancements and improved projections ($37.6 million). This will be the fourth consecutive year the city has been forced to close recession-caused shortfalls, totaling $446 million, an average of 13 percent of the budget each year.
Click Here for the 2012 budget letter and full proposal.
The $931 million General Fund proposal for 2012 reflects Mayor Hancock’s core priorities to support businesses, fundamentally rethink all aspects of city government, create new opportunities for all Denver children, and grow sustainable communities citywide.
Key elements of the Mayor’s budget call for:
- Maintaining current hours, service and staffing levels at libraries, recreation centers and other facilities, with the new Stapleton Library and Crime Lab scheduled to open in 2012.
- Requiring City employees to take five unpaid furlough days, saving $1 million per furlough day.
- Setting aside funds for a potential merit-pay increase, averaging 2.1 percent, for Career Service employees if revenues allow.
- Increasing contributions to the retirement system by 1.5 percentage points; the City and employees will evenly split the additional contribution levels.
- Eliminating 95 mostly unfilled positions for a $12.4 million General Fund savings, and carefully filling only the most critical vacancies. The City’s workforce has been reduced by 7 percent since 2009.
- Delaying police recruit classes for another year.
- Abolishing the $25 Occupational Privilege Tax registration fee the City currently imposes on businesses each year.
- Increasing the business incentive program from $200,000 to $500,000 to retain, expand and attract companies that will bring good jobs with good wages to Denver.
- Increasing financial reserves from 10.5 percent of expenditures to 10.8 percent, helping to ensure the City maintains strong credit ratings in the bond and investment markets.
Mayor Hancock said the budget will support several of his key priorities in 2012:
Economic Growth – The Mayor is crafting a new and targeted economic-development strategy while also refocusing the Office of Economic Development on job creation and customer service. Additional efforts will include advancing the South Terminal Redevelopment Program at Denver International Airport, redeveloping Denver Union Station, building out FasTracks and continuing the strong progress of the Better Denver neighborhood improvement projects.
Rethinking Government – The centerpiece of Mayor Hancock’s strategy for restructuring government is Peak Performance, which will identify new opportunities for efficiencies and cost savings, eliminate waste and streamline operations. Other advances include new technology to allow residents and businesses to pay all city taxes online.
Children’s Opportunities – Mayor Hancock’s Denver Education Compact will take full flight in 2012, bringing together the City, Denver Public Schools, higher education, businesses and nonprofits to improve the quality of education and increase opportunities for all children.
Sustainable Communities – Denver Seeds will take shape in 2012 as a network of urban gardens, greenhouses and local farming operations. The City also will continue to meet or exceed the sustainability goals established by Greenprint Denver, expand the B-Cycle program and aggressively address chronic homelessness through Denver’s Road Home.
“This fiscally responsible, balanced budget will protect Denver’s financial health, maintain service levels and position us for a stronger and healthier economic future,” Mayor Hancock said. “Balancing a fourth consecutive budget in this economic downturn required tough choices and ongoing sacrifices. Like families and businesses everywhere, Denver city government must live within its means. I want to personally thank city employees, residents, companies and other partners for helping us to achieve that goal.”
The Mayor also acknowledged the work of former Mayors Hickenlooper and Vidal and their administrations for laying the groundwork for the 2012 budget proposal.
City Council committees will begin budget hearings later this month, with final adoption in November.
Click Here for the City Council calendar.