Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock speaks during the Martin Building media preview at the Denver Art Museum Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. The Martin Building reopens Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, after being closed for four years for the renovation. 

Mayor Michael Hancock sent a letter to the Denver City Council on Friday approving some of the council’s suggested additions for Denver’s 2022 city budget proposal.

In the letter, Hancock approved 10 of the council’s 12 proposed additions, totaling over $2.76 million to be added to the $1.49 billion budget. Of the 10 approved additions, Hancock reduced the requested funding of three.

The council will hold a public hearing on Oct. 25 to discuss Hancock’s decisions. On Nov. 1, the council will vote to confirm the additions (needing seven votes to pass) or to override Hancock’s rejection of proposed additions (needing nine votes to pass).

The final budget proposal will need to be approved by the council on Nov. 8 before it can be implemented.

“This year’s budget process has been a very collaborative and mutually supportive one, and I want to recognize the shared priorities between City Council and my administration as our recovery from the public health and economic crisis caused by the global pandemic moves forward,” Hancock said. “I am confident we will continue working together to build back an economy that is inclusive and accessible.”

Hancock approved the following requests without change:

  • $150,000 to the Denver Public Library to make the library’s four digital navigators full-year positions, instead of half-year. Funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
  • $132,038 to the City Attorney’s Office to hire an assistant city attorney associate for the City Council. Funding from the 2022 fund balance.
  • $35,000 to Parks and Recreation to buy the Denver Municipal Band a stage and fund free, outdoor concerts. Funding from the 2022 Parks and Recreation budget and 2022 fund balance.
  • $35,000 to Human Rights and Community Partnerships to study the potential establishment of an Office of Community Engagement in Denver. Funding from the 2022 fund balance.
  • $1.5 million to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure to expand Denver’s Safe Routes to Schools program. Funding from the department’s 2021 general fund savings.
  • $500,000 to Human Rights and Community Partnerships split over two years to hire fellows for the immigrant legal defense program. Funding from the 2022 fund balance.
  • $270,000 to the Office of Human Resources to hire a full-time contractor to provide trauma response services for non-safety city employees. Funding from the 2022 fund balance.

Hancock approved the following requests but reduced the funding amounts:

  • $50,000 to the Office on Aging to support technology access, food insecurity and yard clean-up services. The original request was for $90,000 to also fund the restoration of travel and training budgets.
  • $189,000 to the City Attorney’s Office to hire a senior attorney for housing policy, real estate and construction. The original request was for $400,000 to also fund outside legal support for Denver’s housing team.
  • $150,000 to Community Planning and Development to hire a consultant to conduct a railroad safety analysis and recommend policy changes for railroad hazard mitigation. The original request was for $350,000 for the consultant.

In the letter, Hancock said the first two reductions were made because travel and training budgets have not been restored for other agencies and because the city isn’t considering any housing projects requiring outside legal support for 2022. All three reduced proposals would be funded with the 2022 fund balance.

Hancock rejected two proposals for $200,000 to study converting York and Josephine streets from one-way to two-way and $150,000 to establish a health equity director position within the city health department.

“Currently, several transportation-related projects are underway in this area. Once those projects are completed, traffic patterns will change which would make the results of this study immaterial,” the letter said. “(And) the Department of Public Health and Environment already has a position dedicated to Health Equity and leveraging the Office of Social Equity and Innovation.”

Hancock said the city will revisit the street conversion study after ongoing construction is complete and the health department will look into how to elevate health equity across systems.

In addition, the council asked Hancock to use existing funding sources to support building a full-service substance abuse treatment facility and making council offices accessible for people with disabilities. Hancock said he will work on those requests.

As the majority of the budget additions would take from the 2022 fund balance, the fund balance would decrease by 0.1% to 14.1% after the funding is distributed. This is only slightly below the city’s recommended 15% reserve.

Without these new additions, the budget proposal amounts to $1.49 billion, with the most significant delegations being nearly $568 million for public safety, $140 million for transportation and infrastructure, $117 million for independent agencies and $101 million for the finance department.