Mayor Hancock Submits 2023 Budget Proposal

September 16, 2022 / Comments (0)

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Announced on September 14, 2022

Mayor Michael B. Hancock today submitted his 2023 budget proposal to City Council, a fiscally sound and responsible plan rooted in equity and inclusion that will support our city’s continued recovery while also investing in programs and services that will have generational impacts.

“Our recovery is strong, we’re moving forward and there is reason for optimism about the future. Thanks to sound financial management, increased investment from Washington, D.C., and better than expected 2022 revenue, we are taking bold steps to build an economy that works for everyone, with our eyes set firmly on a city built on justice,” Mayor Hancock said is his budget letter to City Council.

The Mayor’s proposed budget presents historic investments to resolve homelessness, increase our stock of affordable housing, reduce crime, and address the community’s behavioral health needs, particularly the drug-overdose crisis plaguing our streets. The budget also prioritizes the reinvigoration of downtown.

Housing Stability and Homelessness Resolution

Since 2011, Denver has helped to rehouse more than 13,000 of our homeless neighbors, create or preserved nearly 9,000 affordable homes and deliver hundreds of permanent supportive housing units. Mayor Hancock’s 2023 budget prioritizes continued investment in proven programs and services, while also making catalytic investments to provide more people the opportunity to achieve housing stability and more pathways to homeownership for more families.

$254 million will be invested in 2023 to support affordable housing and resolve episodes of homelessness, including more than $77.7M in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, $48.9 million from the Homelessness Resolution Fund and $46.7 million from the Affordable Housing Fund. Priority investments include:

  • $20 million in ARPA funding for down payment assistance to address the homeownership gap between white families and those of color, and help more families impacted by harmful historic practices like redlining to purchase a home. A portion of these funds are to create more affordable homeownership units in Denver.
  • $23.25 million from ARPA for the acquisition of hotel properties for encampment decommissioning, housing navigation and safe parking/vehicle support.
  • $20 million from ARPA for the acquisition of hotel properties to convert into supportive housing.
  • $10 million from the Homelessness Resolution Fund will be deployed to increase family shelter capacity.

Community and Behavioral Health and Support for Families

Mayor Hancock’s 2023 budget proposal prioritizes investments in community health and safety support and other resources specifically tailored to our most vulnerable populations. More than $36.5 million in ARPA funds will be dedicated to support expanded behavioral health services for residents, including youths and young adults, and addressing food insecurity. Of that $36.5 million, $20 million will:

  • Support the expansion of a behavioral health provider network to improve availability of services for youth, adolescents, and adults;
  • Make investments in telehealth and other mobile integrated approaches to care and treatment delivery;
  • Bolster the city’s substance misuse response; and
  • Cover behavioral health services for people living with HIV, particularly people of color.

The Mayor is also proposing nearly $700,000 for a new public health hot spot program. Modeled after our successful, data-driven public safety hot spot work, this effort will concentrate resources in areas of our community experiencing higher public health harms such as drug overdoses, encampments and violence. Coupled with an additional $180,000 to add a new Fire Department Emergency Medical Unit and the previously mentioned $900,000 complex case-management outreach team, these investments will allow us to take a more pro-active approach to help people who are in crisis on our streets, particularly in and around downtown. The Mayor’s 2023 budget maintains our investments in the city’s nationally recognized alternative response programs, including the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) Program to ensure that those in crisis are met with a public health, rather than a police response.

Investing in Public Safety

Keeping our residents, visitors and neighborhoods safe remains one of Mayor Hancock’s highest priorities. Residents should feel safe in their communities, and they should have access to the supports, services and resources that promote better mental and behavioral well-being. The Mayor’s 2023 budget proposal includes:

  • $1.5 million to increase and enhance training for our law enforcement officers;
  • $1.6 million for the operation and expansion of Denver Enhancing Motivation by Achieving Reshaped Cognition (EMARC) to reduce the rates of recidivism among men leaving the justice system and an additional $700,000 for Project Elevate, the trauma-informed program that provides people who identify as women with support as they exit the justice system;
  • More than $1.7 million to support nonprofit partners providing youth violence prevention work; and
  • $1.5 million for implementation of the recommendations identified in the Safety Place Network Investigation, part of Denver’s Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) approach, which usually identifies lighting, fencing, windows, and security cameras as ways to improve public safety.

The Mayor’s 2023 spending plan also provides significant funding – $8.4 million – to recruit 188 new police officers to help reduce crime, shorten response times and keep our neighborhoods safe, and for the first time in years, increase the Police Department’s authorized strength, from 1,596 uniformed officers today to 1,639. To continue to address our city’s ongoing challenge with gun violence, the Mayor’s 2023 budget also proposes more than $500,000 for the city’s new partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring greater resources to bear to prosecute individuals with illegal guns under harsher federal laws.

Downtown Recovery

The vibrancy of downtown Denver plays a unique role in our city’s economic and cultural health. Many of the programs and resources included in the Mayor’s budget proposal will also have identified aspects of their work specifically targeted towards addressing those issues in our downtown core and surrounding neighborhoods.

Mayor Hancock’s 2023 budget proposal will continue to prioritize ongoing support for those who live, work, learn and play downtown. This includes the reconstruction and modernization of the 16th Street Mall, funding to support downtown businesses, events and activities, and enhancements to policing and public health services, to ensure downtown remains safe and inviting to all, including:

  • More than $270,000 for a dedicated Downtown Action Team to support a healthy, clean and inviting downtown.
  • $75,000 in ARPA funds to conduct an Adaptive Reuse study to investigate the feasibility of converting 10-15 high-rise office buildings in downtown Denver into housing.

Additional Priority Investments

  • Mayor Hancock’s 2023 budget proposal includes $10 million from Denver’s ARPA allocation for the creation of a legacy business program which will include a commercial land trust. This innovative program will preserve affordability for small businesses by purchasing commercial property that will be available for those at risk of displacement to rent at below market rates, thus allowing long-term neighborhood-serving businesses to remain operational.
  • In 2023, from the city’s General Fund, Capital Improvement Program fund, Elevate Denver and RISE Denver Bond programs, the American Rescue Plan Act, and other funding sources, the Mayor’s budget proposal will invest more than $214 million in capital infrastructure funding for transportation and mobility, parks and recreation, and city facilities.
  • The 2023 budget proposal will invest more than $48 million from the Climate Protection Fund to continue our work to take climate action, including support for the widely popular e-bike rebate program, low-cost community solar for schools and low-income families, and support to community members as we work together to reach our 2025 and 2030 greenhouse gas reduction and climate goals.

“In this budget, my final one as Mayor of Denver, we will be making investments that will put our great city on a path to a more equitable future. As an administration accountable to the people we serve, we remain committed to justice. We remain committed to leaving this city better than we found it,” Mayor Hancock said. “This budget reflects the priorities and the aspirations of our residents, and I’m proud to submit it for their review and City Council’s approval.”

While there continues to be heightened uncertainty about what the future holds, the overall outlook used to inform Denver’s General Fund revenue forecast assumes continued moderate economic growth. Most of the city’s revenue streams are projected to return to or exceed pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023. The General Fund revenue forecast for 2023 totals $1.61 billion, an increase of $51.3 million or 3.3% over the 2022 revised estimate. In the city’s main operating fund, the General Fund budget is proposed to increase to $1.66 billion, up 10.9% over the current 2022 budgeted level.

Denver’s solid commitment to strong financial management and responsible stewardship of city dollars ensures that the city can weather uncertain economic conditions and deliver on essential programs and services. this strong fiscal management was recognized this past April when all three bond ratings agencies once again affirmed the City and County of Denver’s AAA/Aaa/AAA bond ratings with a stable outlook, the highest achievable bond rating for governments.

Mayor Hancock’s 2023 budget increases the General Fund reserve over the 2022 level to 15.1% of projected expenditures, or $250.4 million.

City Council committees will begin budget hearings on Friday, Sept. 23, with final adoption in November. The Mayor’s 2023 budget proposal can be found at denvergov.org/budget.

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