AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post Sam Powell and her children, Ford, 5, and Chloe, 7, walk between sections of sidewalk and non-sidewalk walkways during their daily trek to Cory Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announces his 2018 budget proposal on Sept. 12, 2017, with aides and Cabinet members standing behind him.
The Denver City Council this week asked Mayor Michael Hancock to add more money for sidewalks to his proposed 2018 budget and to more firmly commit city money for a new immigrant legal defense fund.
Those requests were among a dozen submitted to Hancock, totaling $4.3 million, after the council met and voted to reach consensus Monday. A mayoral spokeswoman said Hancock was reviewing the council’s requests, which are a typical step in Denver’s budget process, and planned to respond within the next week.
Hancock last month proposed a $2 billion operating budget for 2018, including nearly $1.4 billion in spending for the general fund, which covers basic operations. Any additions would require dipping further into reserves or finding other sources of money.
The council’s largest request is for $2.5 million for sidewalks. That was the amount provided by a line item in this year’s budget to repair and build sidewalks on city-owned property, but it’s dropped from the proposed 2018 budget.
That request comes as the city seeks nearly $31 million for citywide sidewalk construction, along with other projects that include sidewalk improvements, in a $937 million city bond package that will be decided by voters Nov. 7. The budget request, signed by President Albus Brooks and President Pro Tem Jolon Clark, says the city shouldn’t decrease the regular budget’s funding for sidewalks.
For the start-up of the new immigrant legal defense fund, which Hancock outlined in an August executive order, the mayor has said he wants primarily to seek private donations. The fund would channel need-based help through existing nonprofits that aid immigrants living in the country illegally.
The administration has penciled in $100,000 in city money as potential contingency spending next year, spokeswoman Jenna Espinoza says. That means it could be activated only with subsequent council action, which she says would be requested after a new immigration policy working group has time to consider a recommendation.
But Brooks’ letter says the majority of council members want the mayor to double that amount to $200,000 — and to make it a regular line item, guaranteeing that it would go to the new fund.
The legal fund was announced as part of a recent drive by Hancock and the council to increase city protections for immigrants and to resist federal enforcement in several ways.
Other council budget requests include money for a citywide transportation demand-management plan, a boost for an elderly and disabled resident tax refund program, money to aid the conceptual redesign of the Colfax Avenue and Federal Boulevard cloverleaf interchange, and increased staffing for the city’s in-demand financial empowerment center education program.
Among the proposed adjustments that didn’t receive a majority of council votes was Clark’s request for $1 million more for bike lanes.
Read more about the budget requests in the City Council’s letter: