In the November 2018 Election Denver voters supported several measures that raised sales taxes to pay for new parks, mental health, healthy food, and college scholarships. The passage of each of these measures meant the City of Denver had to create new infrastructure to administer and manage the funds. These measures included Measure 2A, the parks sales tax, Initiative 300, which provides funding for college scholarships, Initiated Ordinance 301, which provides mental and behavioral health services, and Initiated Ordinance 302, which provides healthy foods for kids. Denver has been working hard since the election to set up the infrastructure for each measure. Below is a description of the progress made for each measure.
Measure 2A, the parks sales tax
This measure will provide a projected $37 million per year for parks construction and maintenance. The Department of Finance is working to establish a special revenue fund with approval from City Council, likely this month. Per the ballot measure, the Department of Parks and Recreation is developing a framework for a five year plan, using Game Plan for a Healthy City as a guide for the work, with community outreach and input being gathered through April. If the five-year plan is approved by City Council, residents could start to see projects funded by this measure before the end of the year.
Initiated Ordinance 300, the college scholarship fund sales tax
The measure will provide a projected $12 million per year for scholarships for Denver students who qualify to attend a public or not-for-profit college, university, community college, or technical school in Colorado. The measure also creates a tax-funded nonprofit organization to provide oversight. The Department of Finance is also working to establish a special revenue fund with approval from City Council, likely this month.
A seven-member Board, acting as the decision-making body on the distribution of funds to organizations, will be established by the Mayor and City Council. Six community members will be appointed by the Mayor and approved by City Council and one City Council member, selected from the body, will also serve. Reimbursement from the Denver College Affordability non-profit to various organizations is on track to happen the first quarter 2020.
Initiated Ordinance 301, the mental and behavioral health sales tax
This initiated ordinance will provide a projected $37 million per year for mental health services and addiction services for children and adults. The Department of Finance is also working to establish a special revenue fund with approval from City Council, likely this month. Funding will be allocated to a non-profit (501c3) that will then distribute funding to various organizations working on addressing mental health.
A 13-member Board will be established with six ex-officio members appointed by the Mayor including the executive director of Public Health and Environment, the executive director of Human Services, the City Attorney, the CEO of Denver Health, the CEO of the community mental health provider, and the District Attorney or their respective designees. Two members will be appointed by the District Attorney. The final five seats will be filled with community members appointed by the President of City Council. The non-profit is working to develop a strategic plan to determine funding priorities. Funds are estimated to be available to agencies in late 2019 to early 2020.
Initiated Ordinance 302, the healthy foods for kids sales tax
This initiative will provide a projected $12 million in the first year to Denver organizations working to provide more healthy food to children in low-income families. The Department of Finance is also working to establish a special revenue fund with approval from City Council, likely this month.
A 13-member Denver Food Commission will be established to determine the allocation of funding. The commission will consist of eleven community members appointed by the Mayor and two community members appointed by City Council.
How to Apply
Applications to apply for one of the board positions appointed by the mayor can be submitted here. Applications to apply for one of the positions appointed by Denver City Council can be submitted by contacting Maggie Thompson. Applications to apply for one of the positions appointed by the Denver District Attorney’s Office can be submitted by contacting their office at 720-913-9000.