Election

Denver’s 2020 ballot measures: The one about supplemental budget changes

2G is about giving city council more power over the budget.

Denver City Council goes COVID virtual.

Denver City Council goes COVID virtual.

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City council can already do what 2G lays out — sort of.

The legislative body can amend the city’s budget in November for the following year, a power it’s exercised twice in the last 15 years, according to an analysis by Councilwoman Robin Kniech‘s office. It just can’t make changes to a current city budget. The mayor, on the other hand, can, and usually makes about 20 amendments a year.

What the ballot actually says: Shall the Charter of the City and County of Denver be amended to give the city council authority to initiate a supplemental appropriation or transfer, following consultation with the Manager of Finance?

What the ballot actually means: If you vote for the measure, you agree that city council should get the power to change the city budget in real time, not just preemptively.

The measure would allow council to move money around, but with restrictions. For example, parks money could only be used for parks. Any changes would require a vote of seven council members. if the mayor vetoes a proposal, council would need a super-majority, or nine votes, to override him or her. The manager of finance would also need to give their input on the changes.

The bar is intentionally high, Kniech said, so it would be nearly impossible for individual council members to pass “pet projects.”

“The idea is that in a democracy, we expect that everyone should put their idea out there and debate it,” said Kniech, who introduced the measure in city council, which forwarded it to the November ballot.

Who supports it: City council.

Who’s against it: There’s no formal opposition, but a group called Citizens for a Responsible Denver argues 2G would be abused and create chaos.

“Effective and efficient government in Denver depends on good faith and committed public servants, not political theater,” said group co-chairwoman Elba Wedgeworth, who served on city council in the late ’90s. “Our city is seen as a model across the nation for our discipline and management. Now is not the time to create chaos so that a few members of the Council can create chaos.”

Mayor Michael Hancock opposes the measure.

“Given what we have seen in the last few months with unexpected and unprecedented economic volatility, the Mayor agrees with our CFO’s assessment that it is irresponsible to make mid-year changes to the budget that impact our ability to be nimble and respond to economic downturns,” Hancock spokesperson Mike Strott wrote in an email to Denverite. “(CFO) Brendan Hanlon articulated concerns about the proposal, which include: undermining our conservative budget practices, compromising the city’s bond rating, inhibiting accurate forecasting ability and leaving the city vulnerable to revenue volatility. There is also a history of successful collaboration with council on mid-year budget items, as they arise.”

Check out our comprehensive voting guide here. Happy voting!

Want some more? Explore other Election stories.

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