Excess marijuana tax revenue would help fund transportation projects, repairs to parks and recreation centers, and a new community input program over the next year under a $ 2 billion budget proposed Tuesday by the Denver Mayor, Michael Hancock, was introduced.
With Denver resorting to money from legalized recreational marijuana, the city would also face the opioid crisis more directly in 2018, which is affecting communities across the country. Hancock’s proposal puts more than $ 1 million in new and expanded support services dealing with heroin addiction, pain relievers, and synthetic drugs.
Jon Murray, the Denver Post
Denver City CFO Brendan Hanlon outlines elements of the 2018 budget proposal during a news conference on September 12, 2017. Mayor Michael Hancock (left) was accompanied by Cabinet members and aides in the city and county building.
By and large, however, Hancock’s proposal marks another in a series of boom-time budgets that are leveraging Denver’s economic success to expand in a number of areas that Hancock and city council members had previously prioritized.
This includes lengthy problems – such as B. crumbling sidewalks – and trying to address economic inequality and other issues that compound the side effects of the city’s rapid population growth.
“This is a spending plan that will allow us to manage population growth and continue to provide the highest quality services to the people of Denver,” Hancock said during a morning press conference. “The 2018 budget includes smart investments that will help us directly address our most pressing challenges. … 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. “
And then there is the pot money. His budget would deduct $ 10 million from marijuana taxes – taken from what was left after paying regulatory and law enforcement fees – to $ 5 million for delayed transportation maintenance, $ 4 million to provide funds for repairs to parks and recreational facilities and $ 1 million for the community budget.
Hancock said the latter program, which some council members have advocated, “would give residents a direct opportunity to make decisions and prioritize neighborhood improvement projects.” Its administration is still working on the input process.
The budget proposal will now go to the council for departmental hearings in the coming weeks. The council could then propose changes to Hancock before having a final vote in early November.
Most of the $ 2 billion operating budget is accounted for by $ 1.4 billion for the general fund, up 5.4 percent from this year. The general fund covers most of the daily city operations.
The transportation budget includes a sidewalk program
Hancock’s proposal calls for a $ 31.5 million increase in transportation and mobility spending – more than 40 percent from typical funding levels – to address what Hancock calls a 12-year mobility action plan worth $ 2 billion Suggested US dollars.
Next year, that plan would bring 15 miles of new bike lanes, rebuilding about eight dangerous intersections, and other projects to repair broken sidewalks and bridges with the marijuana money.
The city would begin implementing its Vision Zero plan, which includes the elimination of traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030, including expanding the use of photo radar enforcement efforts to catch speeders and red-light runners.
For the first time, the city plans to launch a $ 4.5 million walkway repair and enforcement program. As Denver puts responsibility for its facade on owners, the emerging plan provides an income-based support fund for homeowners who can’t afford to install or repair their sidewalks, Hancock said.
AAron Ontiveroz, Denver Post File
A woman and her children walk between sections of sidewalk and sidewalk sidewalk sidewalk in southern Denver.
Councilor Paul Kashmann, who has been campaigning for such a program for two years, said the city could focus on one part of the city first for the next year, possibly by inspecting sidewalks and notifying owners of the need for repairs – and then offers assistance if needed.
The program would mark the beginning of a multi-year effort.
“I think it’s promising,” said Kashmann. “Is that enough? Is it a good start? Absolutely. Part of the deal is that we don’t know how this will play out.”
Regardless of the budget, the city’s voters will consider seven November 7th election campaigns that make up the city’s proposed $ 937 million bond package. If approved, they would put hundreds of transportation, parking, building and other projects on the city’s agenda.
The income from the fees for residential real estate remains behind
Hancock’s proposed budget includes $ 21.6 million in affordable housing grants and other programs. US $ 15 million is expected to come from new local funding flows, with the remainder expected from federal funding.
However, a development impact fee approved by the council last year for new projects results in far less than expected revenue. Proceeds this year are projected at $ 800,000, compared to an earlier estimate of $ 3.5 million.
This will require transfers from the general fund to ensure the city has $ 15 million in local money, officials say.
The city would also set up a new “Affordability Support Fund,” which will provide $ 500,000 in one-time aid to residents who struggle to afford housing, utilities, and food bills.
Other housing-related efforts include expanding the education program of the city’s financial aid center and expanding a property tax reimbursement program for the elderly and the disabled.
More spending for the police and the homeless
The Denver Police Department hired 100 officers as part of the budget, mainly to offset retirement but also to ensure a net increase to 22 officers. This would increase the authorized force to 1,525 and cost $ 1.8 million.
And the Denver Sheriff’s Department would hire 32 additional MPs, including staff from the new women’s facility in Building 24 of the Smith Road County Jail.
Other notable suggestions in the household include:
A big boost to employment in the city
New hires across the board over the next year would result in a sharp surge in employment in the city – with 12,457 current permanent and temporary jobs that are projected to grow 461, or 3.7 percent.
These new positions are designed to help expand the expanded list of transportation projects and other programs, as well as fill service gaps in areas such as building permit reviews and inspections. The 911 call center, which is designed for 10 new employees, is struggling to fill vacancies and keep up with the volume of calls.
“We wouldn’t be hiring people if we didn’t have the revenue to support it,” said CFO Brendan Hanlon. “But it’s also the system requirements – you have certain needs in a growing city.”
The budget also includes performance-based increases for all employees, averaging 3.3 percent for a total of $ 9 million.
Although tax and other income for the general fund is only expected to grow 3.9 percent – compared to spending growth of 5.4 percent – Hanlon said his office got its budget primarily from using excess reserves on one-time expenses and capital projects balanced. This is a common city practice.
The reserves for Hanlon employee projects will still be 15.2 percent of the general fund expenditure next year, just above the city’s official target.
Almost half of the revenue from general funds in 2018 will come from sales and use taxes, only 9 percent from property taxes.
Taxpayers are facing a huge surge in property valuations that will take effect next year. However, they have triggered a growth cap that is preventing the city from pocketing all of the resulting surge in tax revenue. The growth cap, imposed in lieu of the taxpayer’s Bill of Rights as part of a 2012 voter-approved measure, required a sufficient cut in urban land tax rates to save a total of $ 32.5 million in tax burdens, a spokeswoman said the city financing.