Denver Budget Would Bump Up Spending For Transit, Sheriff’s Department

September 14, 2015
Photo: Michael Hancock unveils budget
City officials look on Denver Mayor Michael Hancock as he unveils his 2016 budget proposal at a press conference inside the Denver City and County Building on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.

 “We have become one of the most vibrant cities in the nation and we are experiencing one of the most dynamic moments in our history," Hancock said.

Indeed, the city has seen historic growth in recent years. But with the influx of new residents, rents and mortgage have risen dramatically as well. The budget proposal includes $8 million for hundreds of new affordable housing units. 
"Underlying everything in Mayor Hancock's 2016 budget proposal is a commitment to keeping Denver affordable," said Cary Kennedy, the city's chief financial officer.
Beginning in 2017, the city will put in place a permanent funding commitment of $15 million every year for affordable housing efforts.
The city's transit system would receive a 18 percent boost under the proposal, which would help pay for 10 miles of new bike lanes and pedestrian crosswalk improvements along major roadways. The proposal would also fund preliminary engineering for a rapid bus line on Colfax Avenue.
"The mayor's focused on expanding choices and options for all residents to be able to move safely and efficiently around the city," Kennedy said.
The budget also includes $24 million to pay for sheriff's department reforms. Those include the hiring of more deputies, training and enhanced technology. The mayor called on reforms for the troubled department after the city had to pay millions of dollars in legal settlements over police misconduct cases.

“We've always said that this reform is going to take time over a number of years. But to infuse $24 million of it in the first instance is a great way to begin," said Stephanie O'Malley, Denver's director of safety.

Police body cameras would get a boost too. The budget includes $1.4 million to purchase more cameras, which the city says would equip "most police officers who interact with the public." Just last week, the Denver Police Department released new rules for officers who wear the cameras. 
CPR News' Nathaniel Minor contributed to this report.