Two high-dollar items were approved by the Denver City Council Monday night: an operating budget of $ 2 billion for 2018 and a contract rate of $ 1.5 billion for a gate extension at Denver International Airport.
In the case of the budget, which the council approved at 10: 3, its members have called for several concessions from Mayor Michael Hancock in the past few weeks, including adding more money for sidewalks, a commitment to develop a transport demand management plan for improvement the use of roads and a firmer commitment of taxpayer’s money to a new legal protection fund for immigrants, including some who are illegally living in the country.
Andy Cross, the Denver Post
Denver International Airport on October 20, 2016.
However, concerns remained for some council members, including the administration’s approach to affordable housing programs, homeless programs and other council priorities.
The DIA contracts with four companies were approved with fewer disagreements and will kick off the largest gate expansion in the airport’s 22-year history. The project will add 39 gates in all three halls over the next four years, using the original “telescopic” design of the parallel structures that will allow them to expand east and west at the ends.
Here’s a closer look at both of these topics:
The boom time budget increases spending again
Hancock proposed the budget in September, and his office says the changes made while speaking with the council will still keep the city’s general fund reserves at just above the 15 percent target for the next year.
The general fund, which has estimated spending of $ 1.4 billion over the next year, covers most of the ongoing city operations. An increase of 5.4 percent compared to this year is forecast.
Notable features of the budget for the next year include:
- It increases transportation and mobility spending by $ 33 million – for more bike lanes, repairs at crumbling intersections, and other projects – which is more than 40 percent above typical funding levels. It starts with tackling what Hancock proposed as a 12-year $ 2 billion mobility action plan. That includes an additional $ 1.5 million that Hancock agreed to build more sidewalks, though that change was $ 1 million short of what the council wanted in one of its budget proposals.
- The city will shortly announce details of a $ 4 million pavement repair fund. Denver is putting ownership of its facade on the owners, but the plan is to subsidize the construction or repair of sidewalks for households meeting low-income needs and three-year loans to better-off homeowners in some neighborhoods on crumbling sidewalks.
- The city will consume $ 10 million in marijuana tax revenue, $ 5 million in delayed transportation maintenance, $ 4 million in park and recreational repairs, and $ 1 million in building one municipal budget funds to be paid.
- Approximately $ 21.6 million will go into subsidies for affordable housing and related programs.
- The budget includes $ 1.8 million to hire 100 police officers to offset retirement and allow an estimated net increase to 22 officers. The Denver Sheriff’s Department will recruit 32 additional MPs, including staff from the new women’s facility in Building 24 of the Smith Road County Jail.
- The city will be spending more than $ 1 million on new and expanded support services addressing the heroin addiction, pain relievers, and synthetic drugs that fuel the national opioid crisis.
- Employment in the city is expected to rise by 3.7 percent to 12,918 permanent and temporary positions.
The council and mayor were most divided on how to raise money for the city’s new Immigrant Legal Defense Fund, which Hancock set up in August under an immigration regulation. The city also plans to seek outside donations.
The council approved two budget changes last week that add a combined $ 200,000 to the fund, making it an active budget item. Hancock’s original proposal would have budgeted half the money and did so for the time being, pending recommendations from a new working group on immigration.
With one of the council’s amendments, which was vetoedly supported by nine out of 13 members, Hancock approved the council’s position.
Most of the disagreements were resolved, but Councilor Robin Kniech cited the administration’s lack of transparency regarding potential affordable housing and tenant rights programs as the reason for her no. Kevin Flynn voted no because he opposed the Immigrant Legal Fund.
For his part, Rafael Espinoza said the council should have made more concessions to Hancock after disregarding some of his budget priorities.
“I am voting against this budget in the hope that in this next round, when the Council sets its priorities, we will make some very difficult decisions and modify and shape the budget (2019) with this in mind. ” he said.
In a statement on Monday evening, Hancock called the budget “responsible, balanced and thoughtful”.
“A city’s budget should reflect the priorities and values of its people, and I want to thank the city council members for voting today to approve a spending plan that does just that,” he said. “This spending plan will improve traffic, connect more residents with economic opportunity, make Denver more affordable for families, serve those in need, and strengthen our neighborhoods.”
DIA halls are to add 39 gates
Provided by Denver International Airport
Details from a presentation of the planned 39-gate expansion of Denver International Airport in its existing halls.
For the expansion of the DIA gates, the council approved agreements worth $ 65 million each for Jacobs Engineering and HNTB Corp. to be carried out for architectural and design work. a construction contract for USD 655 million for a joint venture between owner and FCI; and a $ 700 million contract for a joint venture between Turner and Flatiron.
The first three contracts were accepted 12-0 and the last 11-0.
Councilor Stacie Gilmore refused to vote on the Turner Flatiron contract because her brother-in-law’s company, Gilmore Construction, was involved in the offer. His company is also active in the terminal project.
Espinoza abstained from both votes because he still had questions about the contract structure.
DIA is also working on a previously approved $ 1.8 billion 34-year public-private partnership agreement for the terminal building. This project includes a $ 650 million renovation of the terminal.
Both projects – financed by flight fees and other airport revenues – are intended to increase the airport’s growing passenger capacity.