Sep 16, 2021 - COVID
Denver’s 2022 budget bounces back despite pandemic
Source: The City and County of Denver; Chart: Alayna Alvarez/Axios

The proposed $1.49 billion budget Mayor Michael Hancock unveiled Wednesday includes big bucks for public projects, recovery from cuts made this fiscal year, and investments addressing homelessness and preventing crime.

Between the lines: The suggested figures approach pre-pandemic levels, with revenue growth at $97.5 million, up 7% from 2021.

  • Be smart: The city’s revenue remains two years behind where officials projected it would be before the coronavirus changed everything. But the budget total excludes hundreds of millions of federal pandemic relief dollars that will allow officials to spend even further on recovery.

Here are seven numbers to know from the mayor’s proposed 2022 budget:

  • $1.49 billion: Total spending for the 2022 fiscal year, which starts Jan. 1. It's a 14% increase over the previous year, when the city was pushed to close a roughly $200 million gap as the pandemic wiped out Denver’s sales and use tax.
  • $200 million: Proposed investments in transportation and mobility, parks and recreation projects and city facilities, including $10 million to modernize the Denver Public Library’s Central Branch.
  • $190 million: Funds focused on housing stability and homelessness resolution, including down-payment assistance programs and homeownership counseling, as well as housing options like motel rooms, tiny home villages and safe outdoor spaces.
  • $16.5 million: Dollars dedicated to addressing climate change, including increasing access to cooling and green space and investing in solar projects, such as subsidized solar infrastructure for low-income households.
  • $13.6 million: The amount dedicated to hiring new first responders across the city’s police, sheriff, fire and 911 agencies.
  • $1.4 million: What’s earmarked to launch an "investment impact fund" to support residents facing gentrification due to urban development.
  • $1 million: Allotted for the creation of a new alternative police response team, similar to the STAR program, to provide emergency mental health support in Denver’s two jails.

What they’re saying: Denver residents’ high COVID-19 vaccination rates have been "critical to our economic recovery," boosting confidence to return to normal life, Hancock said in Wednesday’s briefing.

  • The rebound in consumer spending allowed his administration to deliver a plan that’s "fiscally responsible, equitable, invests in our neighborhoods, bolsters our local businesses, and serves as a driving force for our recovery."

What’s next: The Denver City Council will hold hearings on the 786-page budget over the next two weeks and propose amendments to the mayor in early October.

  • Council members will vote on the final document in November.
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