Mayor Hancock Announces 2014 Budget Proposal
DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock today submitted a responsible, balanced 2014 budget proposal to the City Council. For the first time in five years – thanks to voter approval of Measure 2A, a recovering economy and prudent fiscal management – the City and County of Denver will not face a budget shortfall in 2014.
“We are emerging from a long and difficult economic downturn as a vibrant, globally competitive city,” Mayor Hancock said. “With this budget, not only will we continue to restore services lost during the recession, we will strengthen our economy, revitalize neighborhoods and make intentional investments for a better, smarter future.”
The 2014 budget proposal continues to expand opportunities for Denver’s youth, broadens and diversifies the city’s employment base, builds new connections to the global economy and focuses on maintaining Denver’s status as one of the safest cities in America.
Key elements of the Mayor’s $1.06 billion General Fund plan:
- Strengthening the safety net by dedicating $3 million to launch an affordable housing fund to build new and greatly needed workforce housing units in Denver, committing $1 million for homeless services, and increasing funding for the medically indigent for the first time in five years, by $2.8 million.
- Hiring up to 80 new police officers, 15 firefighters and addition sheriff’s deputies during peak times to keep Denver residents and businesses safe and maintain a strong focus on crime prevention.
- Investing $2 million in the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative to advance transformational change in long-overlooked neighborhoods adjacent to Interstate 70.
- Eliminating so-called “convenience fees” charged to consumers who pay their city fees, bills and fines with a credit card to save citizens $2 million a year and encourage more Denver residents to make payments online.
- Beginning a two-year phase-out of the city’s 3.62 percent sales and use tax on aviation parts to bring new, high-paying aircraft maintenance jobs to Denver and the Front Range.
- Creating a $200,000 incentive fund to increase retail business in the city.
- Dedicating $500,000 to the implementation of Denver Moves, the city’s multi-modal transit infrastructure plan, to make the city’s streets safer for walking, biking and riding.
- Increasing financial reserves from 11.7 percent to 13.8 percent, helping to ensure the city maintains strong credit ratings in the bond and investment markets.
“This budget is smart, responsible and again demonstrates my unwavering commitment to deliver the highest quality services at the lowest possible cost,” Mayor Hancock said. “We are investing in what our residents need and deserve to strengthen families and neighborhoods and better connect Denver’s businesses to the global economy.”
The budget plan also continues to implement recommendations from the Structural Financial Task Force, including additional health and pension cost-sharing with employees that will save the city $2.9 million annually. Through Mayor Hancock’s Peak Performance business-improvement initiative and employee participation in Peak Academy, an additional $9 million in savings and efficiencies have been identified.
“Through teamwork and shared sacrifice, every department and city employee has helped maintain Denver’s sound fiscal footing. Their efforts to close difficult budget gaps over the past several years while keeping our city humming is truly outstanding,” the Mayor said. “I thank them for their sacrifices over the years, for helping us to emerge from the recession ready to compete and for their commitment to delivering a smart, world-class city where everyone matters.”
Building on the precedent established with the 2013 budget, the Mayor’s 2014 budget proposal provides a detailed baseline accounting of spending from the General Fund and other accounts in three priority categories of jobs, kids and safety.
- Children & Youth – The 2014 budget proposal calls for investing $73 million to advance the ambitious goal of ensuring every child in Denver has the opportunity to succeed and is prepared to compete in the global economy. This includes funding for youth services, such as recreation, health and wellness, safety, early learning, library programs, and workforce and employment initiatives.
- Job Growth and Economic Development – The budget proposes $330 million for business development to retain, expand and attract companies, drive job creation and boost Denver’s competitiveness in – and connections to – the global market. Strategies include: increasing international business development efforts and establishing an International Welcome Center; working with several external partners to open a downtown center for entrepreneurs, technology and innovation; and continuing to leverage the city’s Business Incentive Fund, JumpStart strategic plans and other tools.
- Public Safety and the Safety Net – The budget calls for $806 million in public safety and safety net investments to protect residents, businesses and neighborhoods while also ensuring those most in need are not forgotten or left behind. This includes funding for police and fire protection and jails and courts, as well as funds for vulnerable populations such as the homeless.
In November 2012, Denver voters overwhelmingly passed Measure 2A, permanently lifting TABOR-imposed revenue restrictions. The additional $35.5 million has allowed the city to begin restoring essential services to pre-recession levels. Service restorations have included increasing library hours to at least 48 hours per week per library branch, training and hiring new police and fire recruits, beginning to repave an additional 300 lane miles of residential streets, increasing park maintenance, and providing Denver’s children and youth free access to the city’s recreation centers and outdoor pools.