Mayor Michael Hancock faced yet another direct challenge from Democratic City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca on Monday when she targeted his 2020 budget proposal — and the process — during a City Council meeting.
The progressive first-year officeholder presented eight budget changes as part of the “beginning of a long-term effort to change the way Denver city budgets are done in 2021 and beyond.”
Her funding priorities received little to no support from her colleagues on the council floor. However, the substance of CdeBaca’s proposed budget amendments wasn’t the issue, council members said. In fact, they’d supported her priorities earlier in the budget process.
Rather, it was the amount of time — or lack thereof — that council members had to review them.
“I’m sitting here voting no on things I think are critically important and are great proposals because I’m a little uncomfortable with the depth of the discussion on these,” Councilman Paul Kashmann said.
“This is a process that sets us up for failure,” said Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer, who thanked CdeBaca for her amendments but refused to get behind them due to a process she deemed faulty.
CdeBaca sought the support of her colleagues to fund $230,000 for portable toilets and storage lockers for people experiencing homelessness; $50,000 for trash and needle receptacles; $200,000 to expand the Denver Day Works program; a quarter-million dollars for solar panel subsidies; $100,000 in aid for small business affected by the expansion of Interstate 70; $20,500 for the Office of Aging; and $2,000,000 to purchase a building suitable for community corrections.
“Budgeting is about choices — hard choices — and priorities,” CdeBaca said.
“When I was growing up and we had to make a choice between paying the rent or paying the electricity or buying food, you didn’t get the luxury of saying, ‘We don’t get to pull from the food budget or the light budget,’” she said. “You have to take from the food budget or the light budget if you want to keep a roof over your head.”
Most of CdeBaca’s priorities would be funded by reallocating existing resources, most of which come from administrative monies and the North Denver Community Collaborative, which she called a “failed initiative” of the mayor’s.
Hancock’s office did not provide an official response to a request for comment from Colorado Politics.
On Oct. 14, the mayor responded in a written statement to the council’s requested budget amendments, in which he approved several of their budget adjustments.
“We were able to meet many requests through reallocation and programming of existing 2019 budget and bond funds utilizing the City Council process before the end of the year,” Hancock said in his written response.
The City Council will decide whether to approve Hancock’s 2020 budget proposal at the next council meeting on Nov. 12.