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Mayor Hancock Submits 2020 Budget Proposal

DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock today submitted his 2020 spending plan to City Council, a $1.49 billion budget that reflects years of fiscal strength, protects Denver’s prosperity and prepares the city as the economy begins to show signs of moderating.

“The people’s priorities are clear, and this budget proposal advances them by opening access to equity and opportunity, tackling affordability and improving support for our residents experiencing homelessness, building a mobility system to reduce traffic and congestion, promoting progressive policies, combating climate change, and ensuring all our neighborhoods are safe and offer a high quality of life,” Mayor Hancock said. “All of this is being done while maintaining our strong fiscal stewardship of the people’s tax dollars, even under the signs of a moderating economy and questionable policies coming from the White House.”

After years of unprecedented growth, Denver’s revenue performance is beginning to slow. While the city continues to see healthy revenue growth from the retail and tourism sectors, those gains are being offset by significant softening in automobile and manufacturing- and construction-related sales. Also looming over the local economy are growing signs that the national economy is cooling, exacerbated by the impacts of mounting trade tensions between the U.S. and its major global trade partners.

Just as the city has done in the past, Mayor Hancock’s 2020 budget proposal reflects a proactive fiscal management approach intended to mitigate risks and protect our prosperity.

“This budget proposal is balanced, fiscally responsible, maintains healthy reserves and preserves our AAA bond ratings with all three rating agencies,” said Mayor Hancock. “It prepares us for uncertain economic times, and it intentionally builds equity into its core.”

Specific funding proposals include:

Addressing Affordability and Increasing Support for People Experiencing Homelessness

The 2020 budget proposal dedicates $97 million toward affordable and attainable housing and resources for our residents experiencing homelessness, including $71.3 million toward the new Department of Housing Stability to firmly establish housing stability as a core service of our city government, just like police, fire, paving and planning. Investments include:

  • $30 million for projects and programs funded through the Affordable Housing Fund, which provides targeted resources for the development, preservation, and programming of affordable housing across the city;
  • $1 million in total funding for the Denver Day Works and Colfax Works programs, which provide employment opportunities for people experiencing homelessness; and
  • $1 million to expand day shelter programming to provide individuals experiencing homelessness with new opportunities to access shelter and services and develop a sustainable pathway to long-term housing.

Delivering a More Equitable City for Everyone

Mayor Hancock will continue to push for action at every level to correct the intentional bias and historic inequity within our institutions and criminal justice system, and to increase economic resiliency for Denver residents. He is proposing $3 million for citywide equity, inclusion, and race and social justice work by:

  • Increasing funding to support community resiliency through our Neighborhood Equity and Stabilization Team (NEST);
  • Expanding our Race and Social Justice Initiative;
  • Funding the full implementation of the criminal justice reforms passed by the state legislature in House Bill 19-1263 and Senate Bill 19-191;
  • Ensuring the highest levels of ADA compliance;
  • Supporting the legal defense of immigrants and refugees; and
  • Funding additional recreation center programming and continuing youth camps in underserved communities.

Increasing Mobility and Transportation Options

Mayor Hancock remains focused on creating a safe mobility system that connects neighborhoods, provides access and not barriers, creates unique places, and provides multiple ways to get around town for all people. The 2020 budget proposal combines a variety of funding sources, including the General Fund and the Capital Improvement Program, to invest more than $118 million toward the buildout Denver’s multimodal transportation system. In addition, the city will conduct a third issuance of the Elevate Denver Bond program later in 2019, which will include $48 million in additional mobility and transportation infrastructure investments. To improve safety, increase mobility options, manage and mitigate congestion, and address climate change, investments include:

  • $3.7 million in new and equitable transit solutions to advance our Denver Moves Transit plan;
  • $11.4 million, which includes $6.4 million in planned Elevate Denver Bond funding, to design and construct projects throughout the city to advance our goal of building 125 miles of bikeways in five years and making streets safer for bicyclists; and
  • $6.8 million, which includes $3 million of planned Elevate Denver Bond funding, to complete more than five miles of sidewalk gaps, and improve pedestrian crossings citywide.

Combatting Climate Change and Protecting the Environment

The challenge of climate change must be addressed today. The 2020 proposal invests a total of $40 million to advance our response to this global crisis. Included in this budget is the establishment of a new Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency, which will work to engage the community in efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, safeguard our historically marginalized communities of color who are disproportionally affected by the health impacts of climate change, power our city with 100% renewable electricity, and ensure environmental justice and equity as Denver transitions to carbon-free energy and transportation systems. Investments include:

  • $2 million to expand composting, recycling, solid waste diversion programs and community education;
  • $2.9 million to purchase electric vehicles and invest in electric vehicle infrastructure; and
  • $1.3 million for incentives, Energize Denver, and green building compliance.

Investing in Complete and Safe Neighborhoods

The Hancock Administration is focused on directing growth to where it makes sense, empowering our neighborhoods to have a greater say in what affects the character and design of their community, advancing our goal of each resident living within a ten-minute walk of a park, and ensuring Denver remains one of the safest cities in America. $864 million from the 2020 budget proposal is dedicated to safe and complete neighborhoods. Investments include:

  • $34.2 million in total funds for neighborhood programs including additional funds to accelerate neighborhood planning efforts and increase support for residential design to improve standards and quality in neighborhoods as recommended in Comprehensive Plan 2040;
  • $153 million in general fund, Capital Improvement dollars and parks and open space sales tax revenue is dedicated to our parks, trails, recreation centers, and natural spaces to meet the goals outlined in Denver’s Game Plan for a Healthy City, expand access to our parks and recreation centers, and improve our parks and recreation facilities. In addition, the city will conduct a third issuance of the Elevate Denver Bond program later in 2019, which will include $28 million in additional funds to revitalize parks and bring health and wellness to more neighborhoods across the city;
  • $6.2 million to hire 40 new police officers, 15 new fire fighters, and nine new sheriff deputies

To ensure the city can weather any unexpected changes in the economy, Mayor Hancock’s 2020 budget maintains the General Fund reserve at 15% of projected expenditures, or $223.6 million.

City Council committees will begin budget hearings next week, with final adoption in November. The Mayor’s 2020 budget proposal can be found at denvergov.org/budget.