Jul 29, 2021 - Politics
Michael Hancock's $450M bond package faces opposition
The construction at the National Western Center in 2021. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images
The construction at the National Western Center in 2021. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's $450 million spending plan is already in trouble.

The opposition from City Council members came a day after the mayor made his pitch in the State of the City address.

  • The city leaders are disputing the entire foundation of the bond package — why it's necessary, where the money will go and whether it would benefit the community.

Why it matters: The rebuke puts in question whether it will make it to the November ballot and signals a difficult road ahead to win voter approval.

  • Hancock's term ends in two years and the spending initiative is a test of his power and a potential capstone of his legacy.

What's new: The Hancock administration on Tuesday released the list of its 80 priority projects and a website that touts its "RISE" spending package.

  • The mayor is focused on the economic impact from the proposed construction of a new arena and other projects, saying it would produce nearly 7,600 jobs, $483 million in wages and $1 billion in economic benefits.

By the numbers: The National Western Center — the home of the annual stock show that is undergoing a $1 billion upgrade — is the top beneficiary, receiving 42% of the total.

  • Another $37 million would go toward the purchase or construction of new shelters for people experiencing homelessness.

The other side: At a hearing Tuesday, the council questioned Hancock's prized item — a new $160 million arena at the center — saying it is not a priority and wouldn't benefit the community. Others argued the parks projects on the list should be funded from existing taxes.

Moreover, Council President Stacie Gilmore said the jobs the construction projects would create are not the jobs that Denver needs, the Denver Business Journal reports. She wants a focus on developing more stable careers, not hourly-wage jobs.

The intrigue: Hancock's allies aren't helping his case.

An organization called Friends of the National Western Stock Show sent mailers chastising council members for their opposition, the Denver Post reports.

  • "That was certainly an interesting way to try to get us to buy into something, by talking smack about us all over town," remarked Councilperson Amanda Sawyer.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story quoted incorrect information reported by the Denver Post about the name of the organization behind the mailers. The organization is named the Friends of the National Western Stock Show.


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