May 24, 2021 - News

Denver wants your help spending its stimulus bucks

A photo of Denver's skyline and empty streets taken at the start of the pandemic last March.

Nearly-empty streets and parking spaces in downtown Denver in late March 2020. Photo: Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver leaders are seeking feedback from the community to guide their federal stimulus spending and rebuild the city stronger and more equitably over the next 10 years.

Driving the news: City officials launched a new website on Thursday β€” β€” to give residents opportunities to provide feedback on investments centered around community, business and infrastructure.

  • The city will also host a series of four telephone town halls to gather input, starting this week.
  • An advisory committee will review the responses and build an investment strategy around them.

Why it matters: "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 who were hit the hardest in the pandemic," Denver's finance department spokesperson Kiki Turner told council members last week.

By the numbers: The city is slated to get $308 million over the next two years from the American Rescue Plan Act.

How it works: The federal government requires the aid be used for public health expenditures, addressing negative economic impacts caused by the pandemic, replacing lost public sector revenue, providing premium pay for essential workers and investing in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

  • Ineligible uses include pension contributions, debt service payments or tax rate reductions.

The backdrop: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced last month that the city's post-COVID economic recovery would focus on three priorities, including the economy, homelessness and public safety.

  • Denver council members identified their spending priorities in a committee meeting last month, which included money for sanctioned homeless campsites and investments in mobility safety, Colorado Politics reports.

What to watch: The kicker will be whether residents, the council and the mayor's office can all come to an agreement on the stimulus spending.

  • Once a plan is finalized, it will be presented to and voted on by the full council.

The big picture: "The [stimulus] amounts to anyone sound large, but once you start slicing it apart, we know that it can go quickly," Turner said.


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