Mayor Hancock’s Proposed Budget Focuses On Housing, Domestic Violence And B-Cycle

<p>(Stephanie Wolf/CPR News)</p>
<p>Denver Mayor Michael Hancock at his office on Nov. 8, 2017.</p>
Photo: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock at his office on Nov. 8, 2017.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock presented his 2019 budget proposal Thursday.

“This 1.5 billion dollar proposal reflects the priorities and values of Denver's residents of equity, access to opportunity, affordability and neighborhood preservation,” Hancock said.

If approved, families will have access to a property tax rebate program for homeowners that was previously only available to singles, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The proposed budget would also create a Neighborhood Equity and Stabilization Team to try to help lower-income residents at risk of being displaced by development.

“The Mayor’s 2019 budget possesses smart investments that allow us to directly meet our needs and pressing challenges,” said the city’s Chief Financial Officer Brendan Hanlon.

The proposal allocates a record $50 million dollars for affordable housing, made possible by the 2 percent increase in the retail marijuana tax from 3.5 to 5.5 percent. Those funds include the creation or preservation of 6,000 new housing units over the next five years.

More than 30 percent of the Affordable Housing Fund will be dedicated to supporting the city’s homeless population.

Hancock plans to set aside an additional $27 million to improve transportation and mobility.

He proposes doubling the city’s funding for B-cycle. The bicycle sharing nonprofit that operates Denver B-cycle wants to expand, even as new dockless bike and scooter services crowd the market.

The extra money may go toward discounted or free B-Cycle rides for certain? Denver residents as well as the expansion of the program into currently unserved neighborhoods.

The budget proposal also allows for 31 new police officers and three new detectives dedicated solely to investigating domestic-violence cases, as well as 37 new firefighters.

More money is going toward parks and recreation, mental health and substance abuse programs, job training and small business support funds.

“We’re doing all that and more while maintaining over 15 percent reserves in our savings account,” Hancock said. “While managing an expanding city, while addressing the critical needs of our city, while bringing forward a new equity platform, the city has a solid financial structure.”

The Denver City Council will begin budget approval hearings later this month and expects to reach final approval in November.