Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration wants voters to approve $450 million in bonds to pay for numerous projects throughout the city. That amount is spread out over five questions on your ballot.
This is the measure specifically ask to approve borrowing money to pay for city buildings. It asks to borrow $104 million.
Here’s the language you’ll see on the ballot:
Shall the City and County of Denver debt be increased $104,040,000, with a maximum repayment cost of $179,175,000, with no expected increase in the city’s current rate of taxation for general obligation debt service based on the city’s projected assessed value, the proceeds thereof to be used for repairs and improvements to the Denver facilities system, which may include but are not limited to:
- Critical infrastructure improvements, and other facility repairs at Denver Botanic Gardens, Bonfils Theater Complex, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and Denver Zoo; and
- Preservation and restoration of the May Bonfils Stanton Theater at the Historic Loretto Heights campus for use as a performing and cultural arts venue; and
- Renovation of an existing city-owned facility into a youth empowerment center; and
- Construction of two new libraries and upgrading existing libraries to include children’s learning areas, community spaces, and technology labs; and
- Accessibility improvements to Denver facilities for people with disabilities; by the issuance and payment of general obligation bonds, notes, loan agreements or other multiple fiscal year financial obligations, which shall be issued or incurred in such manner and containing such terms not inconsistent herewith as the city may determine (the expenditure of the proceeds thereof to be publicly reported by the city on an annual basis);
and shall city ad valorem property taxes be increased without limitation as to rate but by not more than a maximum amount of $19,250,000 annually in amounts sufficient to pay the principal of, premium, if any, and interest on such financial obligations or to create a reserve for same; and shall the city be authorized to issue financial obligations to refund or refinance such financial obligations authorized in this question, provided that such refunding financial obligations when combined with other outstanding financial obligations authorized in this question do not exceed the maximum principal limits or repayment costs authorized by this question?
How would it work?
You are voting on whether to let the city issue general obligation bonds to pay for various city facility projects. So by voting yes, you are allowing the city to borrow this money to pay for things like federally-mandated ADA improvements in city buildings; renovations to the Buell Theater backstage; maintenance for the Bonfils Complex, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Denver Zoo; and building two new libraries in Globeville and Westwood. It will also help pay to develop a youth empowerment center in the city.
These bonds don’t come with a tax increase; however, it’s possible that at some points in the future, the city may increase taxes to help pay these bonds back. The bond amounts include money to pay for the project, as well as what’s called a contingency; so basically, extra money providing a cushion in case the initial projected amount isn’t enough.
Who’s for it and who’s against it?
Well, Hancock and the city’s Chief Financial Officer, Brendan Hanlon, are pushing this bond package as part of the city’s overall recovery from the pandemic. The city believes these projects will help create jobs and bring more money to the city by improving and maintaining these spaces.
Political committee RISE Denver supports this and all other bond measures. Denver Elections records show no current organized opposition group or campaign for this portion of the bond request.