Denver tapping 2024 savings to tackle migrant crisis
Why it matters: The city is using taxpayer dollars and drawing down on funds that could become critical for other unforeseen emergencies or economic downturns.
Details: Mayor Mike Johnston's administration proposed a plan Tuesday that would take $10 million from the city's contingency fund and place it into the Border Crisis Response Special Revenue Fund created last year, leaving about $24.2 million left in savings.
- The city is also planning to pull $15 million from capital improvement and maintenance projects, which will pause renovations to the Richard T. Castro Building.
Yes, but: These funds are only expected to cover the first quarter of 2024, according to Denver budget director Stephanie Karayannis Adams.
- "There's a strong possibility" the city will need to tap its savings even more "given the uptick most recently" and "any other surges" ahead, she told council members Tuesday.
By the numbers: The city — which is currently sheltering about 4,400 migrants — estimates it's spending about $90 per person per night, including lodging, staffing, food and supplies.
- It's also spending an average of $300 per ticket for each migrant seeking to travel elsewhere by bus, plane or train.
The big picture: Johnston projects the city's migrant response could cost $180 million in 2024, which could lead to a "very, very painful conversation about budget options," he said earlier this month.
What they're saying: Cutting the budget to meet migrants' needs "exacerbates the vitriol at the political level," Penfield Tate, a former state lawmaker, said last week on PBS12's "Colorado Inside Out."
- "If you're a resident and a taxpayer, and your services get reduced because the city's got to spend $180 million to deal with the immigrant crisis, I think you have a legitimate beef," he said.
What's next: City council members are expected to vote on the reallocation of resources in the coming weeks.
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