The Denver City Council exited its annual budget retreat in a bid to focus 2023 funding on community engagement, increasing affordable housing, reframing public safety, workforce recovery and businesses, environmental protection and increased transport in the city.
Those priorities will serve as a guide for the mayor’s office and other city agencies as they develop budgets for next year, according to a city press release. Mayor Michael Hancock will need to brief council on the budget by September 15, before council holds several public hearings and approves a final budget by November 8.
Each of the six budget priorities has specific items to which board members want to see funds allocated.
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To improve community engagement, the board wants special attention to be given to the creation of a community engagement executive office created to oversee various resident engagement services, as well as more funding for the engagement work of each board office.
The statement said the next priority is to increase affordable housing and support for homeless people, as well as to mitigate and reduce involuntary displacement. Key considerations include more funding for homelessness support services, housing stability services, grants for the construction of accessory living units, gap funding for restricted housing deed and more.
Another goal of the council is to reframe public safety within a “public health, evidence-based, and anti-racist context” with community support. Key considerations include funding for mental health, wellness and addictions services, the support team intervention program, and litter and youth support programs.
For the continued recovery and revitalization of the workforce, businesses, and community, City Council wants priority to be given to small business relief funding, construction training allowances, and support services, and hero pay/bonus for non-municipal essential workers.
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To continue protecting the environment and tackling climate change, the statement said the council wants budgets to prioritize funding for tree canopy expansion and maintenance, encouraging xeriscape on bluegrass lawns and electric vehicle mobility and infrastructure.
Finally, to increase transport connectivity across the city, the council wants funding to focus on sidewalks, expanding cycling infrastructure, safe routes to school and improving multimodal transport.
“As our city continues to recover from the past two years, I’m proud of the work my colleagues and I have done to amplify the needs and wants of our constituents,” Council Speaker Stacie Gilmore said in the communicated. “Our budget priorities align with the most pressing needs of our residents, and they communicate to the mayor and city agencies what council expects to see funded in the proposed 2023 budget for the City and County of Denver. .”
More details on the board’s budget priorities can be found here.
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