The last of Denver’s community town halls are set to take place this week, allowing residents to provide input on how to spend over $700 million in COVID-19 relief funds that will be invested in Denver over the next decade.
The next telephone town hall will be Thursday at 6:30 p.m., followed by Saturday at 9 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Residents can sign up to participate online.
The meetings include education on the incoming funding and live polling where residents can rank the importance of investing in certain areas and provide additional investment suggestions.
"Make sure you are paying attention to how your money is being managed,” Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca said in a release. “We need you — your energy and your involvement — so that we can build a city that prioritizes the health and safety of all of our people and communities."
For those who cannot make the town halls, the city launched a website last month for residents to express their funding priorities, ask questions to be sent to city officials and engage in an open forum with other community members about what the city’s priorities should be.
In addition to English, the website and telephone town halls will be provided in Spanish, Vietnamese and Amharic. Translation services for more languages, including French, Russian and Arabic, are available by contacting the city.
After the town halls and website responses end, the city’s stimulus investment advisory committee will review the feedback from the community, City Council, businesses and regional partners to create an investment strategy.
“It is crucial for us to have residents at the table when we’re deciding how we should prioritize investments and specific resources that are going to make the most impact for people that were hit the hardest during the pandemic,” said Kiki Turner with the Denver Department of Finance.
The initial public input phase is set to end Monday. The committee will present its findings from the community feedback later this month.
Denver’s estimated $700 million in COVID-19 relief funding is expected to come from the federal government and local tax revenues.
For the other $400 million, city officials are planning to propose a general obligation bond program that Denver voters would see on the ballot in November. If passed by voters, those funds would be available through 2031.
“Denver is making a once-in-a-generation investment into our economic recovery,” Council President Stacie Gilmore said in a release. “Now is the time to rise together and rebuild an inclusive and sustainable economy that works for all residents.”
COVID-19 relief funds can be used for public health expenditures, addressing negative economic impacts from the pandemic, replacing lost public sector revenue, paying essential workers and investing in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
The funds cannot be used for direct pension contributions, debt service payments or tax rate reductions, according to spending guidelines from the U.S. Treasury Department.