Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Feb. 14, 2020. 

Denver city employees were told by Mayor Michael Hancock on Wednesday evening that they must take eight unpaid workdays by the end of this year due to the economic costs of the coronavirus pandemic.

The mandatory pay cuts will help the city cut $16 million, The Denver Post reports, as it now braces for a $226 million revenue loss, a 25.5% increase from the $180 million decline initially projected.

Hancock told employees that five of the furlough days have already been scheduled for July 6, Sept. 4, Oct. 19, the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, according to The Denver Post. The other three days can be taken upon employees’ choosing.

The mayor will discuss more details about the furloughs and the city budget during a 1 p.m. press conference Thursday.

On April 14, a spokesperson for the city told Colorado Politics that, although the city wasn’t implementing furlough days at that point in time, unpaid work days “could be deployed as a way to generate temporary savings” if needed.

“This is something we would evaluate based on what we receive from agencies in terms of reductions and based on the length of this emergency,” Heather Burke, with the city’s emergency Joint information Center, wrote in an email to Colorado Politics.

Denver’s move isn’t unprecedented.

The city of Boulder announced one month ago that as of April 20 nearly 740 employees will be furloughed through June 28. The city of Aurora announced that as of April 15 it would furlough 576 employees indefinitely. Fifty-eight Littleton city employees are furloughed until June 24.

Cities across the country are facing similar situations. Thousands of city workers in Los Angeles have been required to take 26 furlough days. Portland is freezing raises for non-union city employees and requiring 10 furlough days. And, as of Wednesday, nearly 500 Dallas employees with be furloughed without pay from May 13 through July.

Denver has implemented a number of steps to help absorb the financial shock from the virus, including putting in place a hiring freeze and requesting that city departments identify 7.5% reductions in their 2020 budgets.

Based on that information, Denver’s finance department will review the proposals and make recommendations to Mayor Michael Hancock on which agency budgets to tighten. The city hopes to identify about $100 million in savings, Burke said in April.

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