Mayor Hancock announces $226 million revenue shortfall, mandatory furloughs for Denver employees

The city projects the loss in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Michael Hancock gives a COVID-19 update in the City and County Building's Parr-Widener Room. May 5, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Mayor Michael Hancock gives a COVID-19 update in the City and County Building's Parr-Widener Room. May 5, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Mayor Michael Hancock on Thursday announced mandatory furloughs for more than half of the city’s 12,000 employees as Denver tries to address a projected $226 million revenue shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 9,000 employees will be required to take eight furlough days by the end of the year. Five days will be fixed, while employees will get to choose when they take three days off. A release from the City Council’s office said the furlough days could save the city $16 million.

Thursday’s announcement comes a month after the city initially projected an $180 million loss.

Denver chief financial officer Brendan Hanlon said that only non-uniform employees — anyone but first responders — will have to take furlough days due to pre-existing contracts.

Hanlon said beverage and online sales have increased in Denver, but other retail and food services have seen losses. The hospitality industry has also taken a huge hit. Taxes paid by hotels are expected to drop 60 percent as hotel stays plummet due to the pandemic.

The city anticipates a 10.5 percent loss of revenue for its general fund. The loss in the 2008-’09 recession amounted to about 6.5 percent.

“I could have never imagined seeing the numbers we’re seeing right now,” said Hanlon, who worked for the city during the Great Recession.

Twelve of the city’s 13 City Council members will be taking eight voluntary furlough days, as will Mayor Hancock and his administration.

“Taking these furlough days helps the City by returning our income for those days, but also demonstrates our support for the dedicated employees who continue work hard through the pandemic and now face mandatory unpaid leave,” Council President Clark said in a statement.

Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca has declined to join her colleagues. In a release posted on Facebook, she said the city’s legislative branch has already been operating “on an anemic budget” and is being asked to cut office budgets during a time when council members “must provide more support to constituents.”

“I do not believe the Mayor’s ‘equal cuts’ across the board address the major issues of inequity I have been raising since I came into office,” CdeBaca said in the release.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the number of city workers who will be required to take furlough days. 

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