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Ballot Measure 2G: 
Expand Council Budgeting Authority


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Live Forum Information

A Denver Decides Ballot Issue Forum in anticipation of the general election coming up on Tuesday, November 3rd. Referred Measure 2G asks voters if the Charter of the City and County of Denver should be amended to give the City Council authority to initiate a supplemental appropriation or transfer, following consultation with the Manager of Finance. Denver City Councilmember At-Large Robin Kniech speaks in favor of Ballot Measure 2G, and Cole Finegan, former Denver City Attorney and Chief of Staff for Mayor John Hickenlooper, speaks against Ballot Measure 2G.

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Ballot Measure 2G

Shall the Charter of the City and County of Denver be amended to give the city council authority to initiate a supplemental appropriation or transfer, following consultation with the Manager of Finance?

¿Se deberían enmendar los Estatutos de la Ciudad y el Condado de Denver para otorgar autorizar al ayuntamiento a iniciar una apropiación o transferencia complementaria, luego de consultar al administrador de finanzas?

Ballot Details

Approval of this charter amendment would not raise taxes. It would improve checks and balances on city spending and allow the Denver City Council to be more accountable and responsive to taxpayers when the city is faced with unanticipated needs. It does so by authorizing the Council to propose mid-year changes to the city’s budget in the same way the Mayor is already allowed to propose such changes. Any changes to the budget would be transparent, subject to public notice on the council agenda, and require approval by a majority of the City Council, subject to a mayoral veto that could only be overridden by a super-majority of Council (nine of thirteen votes). Proposals would have to be consistent with any use restrictions on the original funds, compliant with city fiscal rules such as requirements to maintain a 15% reserve in good times and restrictions on how those reserves can be used during economic downturns, and under no circumstances could a proposed budget change create a deficit. The city budget must remain balanced in spite of any changes in how funds may be spent, regardless of who proposes the change, the Mayor or the City Council. Under this charter change, City Council could propose a spending change to address the city’s needs only after consulting with Denver’s Manager of Finance regarding the performance of the annual budget and any unanticipated consequences. The proposed charter change is very similar to Council’s current authority to initiate amendments once a year to the Mayor’s proposed city budget, before it is adopted each fall for the upcoming calendar year. The city budget and an ordinance authorizing the spending outlined in the budget are used to estimate how much money the city is expected to receive from taxes, fees and other sources for the upcoming calendar year and to allocate how much funding goes to each city service. Once the new year begins, actual revenues may vary from estimates and unexpected circumstances or needs may arise. On average in recent years, Denver’s Mayor has proposed more than twenty adjustments to the current year’s budget to respond to these changing circumstances in real time, but Council is not able to propose similar changes to the current year’s spending. This charter change would allow City Council to play a more proactive role in addressing pressing city needs that might not have been known or possible to address during the prior budget process, rather than having to wait up to a year for the next budget cycle to initiate any spending changes. And because any council-initiated budget change proposals must receive majority approval from the City Council, or supermajority in the case of a veto, this proposal comes with the same transparency and democratic checks and balances as other City Council budget and legislative decisions outlined in the Charter.

2G con statement council budgeting authority 

  • Having council members introduce supplemental appropriations or transfers at any time for their pet projects could be highly disruptive to funding of basic services 
  • This is a solution in search of a problem. During budget deliberations, council members can and do initiate financial changes through a cooperative procedure. In addition, formal Council amendments are voted on in an open council session prior to the budget’s adoption.
  • What issue led to this proposal at this time? Outside the annual budget cycle, certain council members wanted the city to establish and appropriate money for an eviction legal defense fund. The administration needed time to research and negotiate. It is this type of legitimate pushback from the administration that council members are trying to quickly circumvent. 
  • During the year, the mayor and budget director customarily work with council concerning the use of settlement dollars and unexpected revenues such as Covid-19 federal monies. Any larger contract for the use of these monies must receive council approval under current law.