How the 2024 budget in Denver is different than years past
When the Denver City Council formally adopts Mayor Mike Johnston's 2024 budget Monday, the spending plan will carry an unusual amount of influence from council members.
Details: The council's unanimous decision last week to move an additional $13.5 million to the 2024 rent and utility assistance program came after a disagreement with the mayor.
- He initially agreed to increased funding, but not to the amount council sought.
Zoom in: It's a major change from previous years. The council passed a single $1 million amendment in 2021 and none in 2020, Denverite reports.
Why it matters: The final budget shows the more diverse city council is willing to take a hands-on approach and challenge the mayor.
- It's a message that its 13 members won't rubber stamp bills proposed by Johnston's administration.
Catch up quick: The change was a culmination of a weekslong process, starting with the council requesting a significant increase for the rental assistance program on Oct. 6, before the two sides went back and forth about spending.
State of play: This year, the most significant change was driven by a drastic increase in eviction filings in Denver, leading to concerns over a spike in homelessness in a city already reeling from its impact.
- It was led by three new members — Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, Shontel Lewis and Sarah Parady — who are starting to carve out a progressive bloc on the council.
What they're saying: "We were really clear-eyed as a group that we need to be doing everything possible to keep people housed," Parady tells us.
Between the lines: Johnston agreed to the final changes, and in a statement noted he had worked closely with council to reach the total in a way that worked "for the city budget and for Denverites."
Of note: The council also added an additional $550,000 to a program seeking to end traffic deaths by 2030 and $450,000 for a program seeking to create a safer environment for kids to travel to and from school.
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