Denver leaders will vote on their 2020 priorities Tuesday

Some people call this the budget.
2 min. read
Denver seen from above Five Points. Specifically: 2283 N. Ogden St., the old New Hope Baptist Church that now houses four privately-owned condos. Aug. 20, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A hundred million here, a hundred million there: On Tuesday the Denver City Council will decide whether or not to sign off on the 2020 budget, a spending plan that lays out $1.49 billion worth of priorities for next year.

Homelessness, transportation and climate change get bigger chunks than in previous years, though some advocates say it's not enough to meet the city's stated goals in those arenas. Here are some highlights:

  • $97 million to address homelessness and the high cost of living. This includes the affordable housing fund, which stays static at $30 million; a new Department of Housing Stability; an expanded shelter system that includes a focus on reaching women; and 24-hour "treatment-on-demand" for people misusing opioids.
  • $118 million for walking, biking, transit and roads, including money for sidewalks, bikeways, bus projects and street safety projects.
  • $40 million to fight climate change, including a new Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency; money to train locals in green jobs, recycling and composting expansion; electric vehicles and charging stations; and greener building incentives.

You can see a birds-eye-view of the city's spending plan or get granular here.

Mayor Michael Hancock sets the budget and the City Council massages it. This year Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, a political opponent of Hancock, went out on a limb to challenge the mayor's spending. She tried and failed to defund what she sees as administrative excess in order to pad funding for homelessness, sustainable energy and other goals.

Denver's economy is still growing, but not as fast as it once was, in part because people are spending less money.

City sales tax, which makes up half of Denver's general fund revenue, isn't performing as well as officials expected.

Construction, manufacturing, medical marijuana sales and car sales are down as well, according to the Hancock administration. Property taxes, fees for things like building permits, and fines for things like parking tickets are still flowing in, but not as fast as they once were.

Tourists are still visiting and people are still eating and drinking out, which has contributed to what momentum Denver still has, Chief Financial Officer Brendan Hanlon told Denverite.

The council will vote at its legislative meeting, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the City and County Building.

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