Denver just pulled $17 million out of the couch cushions for its coronavirus fight

(The money actually comes from TABOR reserves.)

A blackhawk helicopter carrying U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite flies over Denver toward the Colorado Convention Center. April 14, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A blackhawk helicopter carrying U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite flies over Denver toward the Colorado Convention Center. April 14, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

The same Taxpayer Bill of Rights that adds hurdles to raising taxes in Colorado forces cities like Denver to put away 3 percent of their budgets for emergencies, and now the city is dipping into its emergency fund to the tune of $17 million.

Denver City Council members unanimously approved the move Monday. The money will go toward “shelter costs, medical supplies, workplace safety supplies, and other items required for the city’s response,” a document explaining the allocation states.

The city has $35 million left in its TABOR reserves for this year, according to council documents, and will have to replenish the fund in 2021, said Julie Smith, a spokeswoman with the Denver Department of Finance. But the government has other emergency buckets to pull from as well.

Denver has spent about $22 million on its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That figure includes supplies and services needed for the emergency and does not include payroll for city employees or money spent by Denver International Airport or Denver Health, Smith said.

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