Mayor Michael Hancock responded in a written statement Monday to the Denver City Council’s requested budget adjustments to his $1.49 billion 2020 budget proposal.
The council on Oct. 4 submitted to the mayor 18 budget requests that were not included in his initial proposal, first announced in September, but that had received support from a council super majority.
Of those requests, Hancock approved, at least in part, seven adjustments that could be supported with one-time funding and prioritized affordable housing and support for homelessness, a “more equitable city for everyone,” more options for mobility and transportation, combating climate change, and supporting safe neighborhoods.
Per the council’s recommendations, Hancock’s administration approved a $125,000 increase of tiny home village supportive services; reallocated half a million dollars for safe mobility and transportation options to schools; set aside $30,000 to expand the District 1 community office; upped the Office of Aging budget by $50,000; reallocated $730,000 to the city’s Vision Zero effort to end traffic fatalities; increased housing and rental support by $1 million; and added $1.5 million toward city sidewalk improvement projects.
“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. “After meeting requests, our fund balance will be at 15%, adhering to the city’s reserve policy and maintaining Denver’s strong financial position and AAA credit rating.”
Hancock also agreed to “explore options to leverage one-time funding through year-end savings” to support the council’s request for a $100,000 increase of the Business Impact Opportunity fund to include small businesses impacted by I-70.
Some of the council’s budget requests that were not approved included $50,000 for trash receptacles in high-need areas; $200,000 for Denver Day Works’ street cleanup efforts; $180,000 toward public restrooms and handwashing stations; $250,000 for solar panel subsidies; and $50,000 for storage spaces for people experiencing homelessness.
Another request denied by the mayor’s office was more than $200,000 in funding for the Denver Sheriff Community Work Program, which is no longer funded after the first of the year.
In written recommendations from the council on Oct. 4, Council President Jolon Clark and Council President Pro-Tem Stacie Gilmore stated that the work program “gives participants a sense of pride and accomplishment by giving offenders an opportunity to learn new skills.”
But Hancock stated that Denver’s Crime Prevention and Control Commission “did not recommend continued funding for this program due to program underutilization and negative return on investment,” and that he would therefore be “respecting their recommendation and process.”
The mayor concluded his response by reiterating his “appreciation” for councilmembers’ proposals. “Together,” he wrote, “we are ensuring wise investments while keeping true to Denver’s values.”
A public hearing to discuss the spending plan is slated for Oct. 28, after which the council will be able to amend the budget, Hancock can reject those amendments, and the council can trump any of the mayor’s rejections.