Sep 14, 2022 - News

Denver mayor submits his final city budget

Source: The City and County of Denver; Chart: Alayna Alvarez/Axios

The proposed $1.66 billion budget Denver Mayor Michael Hancock unveiled Wednesday includes big spending to address homelessness, addiction, crime and downtown's pandemic-fueled deterioration.

Why it matters: This is Hancock's final budget as he approaches the end of his three-term tenure, and his last chance to fund any future projects that will shape his legacy.

The big picture: The suggested figures show the city's revenue growth at $51.3 million, up 3.3% from 2022.

  • Total discretionary spending from the general fund for the 2023 fiscal year, which starts Jan. 1, 2023, is $1.66 billion β€” about an 11% increase over the previous year.

Here are eight numbers to know from the mayor's 2023 budget:

  • $254 million: To support affordable housing and help fight homelessness, including nearly $80 million from federal pandemic relief funding.
  • $36.5 million: Federal dollars to expand behavioral health services, from bolstering the city's substance misuse response to investing in telehealth and other mobile strategies.
  • $20 million: The amount for down payment assistance to address the homeownership gap between white families and residents of color because of harmful practices, like redlining.
  • $10 million: Federal American Rescue Plan Act aid for the creation of a "legacy business program," which includes a commercial land trust that would allow small businesses at risk of displacement to rent at below-market rates.
  • $8.4 million: To recruit 188 new police officers β€” growing the force by 3% to 1,639 uniformed officers β€” and combat crime and reduce response times.
  • $700,000: Create a new public health hot-spot program, modeled after Denver's crime hot spot initiative, that will concentrate resources downtown to reduce drug overdoses, violence and homeless encampments.
  • $600,000: Federal dollars dedicated to expanding safe parking sites for people experiencing homelessness.
  • $75,000: American Rescue Plan Act money to conduct a study in downtown Denver to determine the feasibility of converting 10 to 15 high-rise office buildings into housing.

What they're saying: These investments "will put our great city on a path to a more equitable future," Hancock said in a Wednesday news briefing.

  • Despite historically high inflation levels coupled with supply chain problems and ongoing challenges from the pandemic, Denver chief financial officer Margaret Danuser says she's hopeful these "historic investments" will ensure a citywide recovery that benefits all residents.

The intrigue: Danuser explained the city is relying on federal dollars to launch numerous new programs that leaders plan to carry on even after the aid runs dry.

What's next: The Denver City Council will hold hearings on the 781-page budget proposal over the next several weeks and propose amendments to the mayor in October.

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