Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, his administration, and every Denver City Council member except Candi CdeBaca agreed to take eight furlough days in 2020, as required for other city employees, to cut costs related to the coronavirus.
“Council members stand united with City employees,” Council President Jolon Clark said in a statement Thursday. “Taking these furlough days helps the City by returning our income for those days, but also demonstrates our support for the dedicated employees who continue work hard through the pandemic and now face mandatory unpaid leave.”
The furloughs will help save the city $16 million as it braces for a revenue loss of $226 million caused by economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak.
City employees, including City Council staff, will be required to take the furlough days, which have been scheduled for July 6, Sept. 4, Oct. 19, the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, The Denver Post reports. The other three days can be taken upon employees’ choosing.
“The City Charter does not permit changes to the salaries of elected officials, upward or downward, except in the months prior to city elections when they are set for the succeeding four years,” the council’s Thursday news release stated. “Because of that, the alternative is for elected officials to reimburse the City’s general fund for the equivalent of eight days of post-tax salary. Council will work closely with City budget officials to track the economic recovery.”
CdeBaca, who told Westword that she refused "personally to give any dollars back to a general fund being so grossly mismanaged," elaborated on her decision in a Thursday statement.
“There is no budgetary partnership between the Mayor’s office and Council; it is a one-sided relationship with the appearance of reciprocity," CdeBaca said. "City Council has no authority over spending in the General Fund, including how dollars should be prioritized, redirected, or accounted for during this unprecedented economic and health crisis."
“I do not believe the Mayor’s ‘equal cuts’ across the board address the major issues of inequity I have been raising since I came into office."
In the release, CdeBaca suggested that instead of cutting from underfunded agencies or minimum-wage salaries, they look at higher-salaried workers from larger agencies or from city projects, including the 16th Street Mall or the National Western Complex renovations.
“Standing with city workers means more than just making feel-good, symbolic gestures," CdeBaca concluded. "They have a right to the truth about our city finances. And simply writing a check back to the General Fund fails to meaningfully address the plight of those who cannot afford to lose ANY days."
This story has been updated with CdeBaca's official statement.