Mayor outlines cuts to close $100 million gap in ’11 budget
The Denver Post
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper on Wednesday outlined plans to close a $100 million gap in the 2011 budget but also stressed that now may be the time to start talking about overhauling how revenue is raised to put the city on sounder footing in the future.
Layoffs and furlough days for city employees and pay freezes for Hickenlooper’s Cabinet and the City Council are among the measures being presented by the mayor as part of a plan to plug next year’s shortfall.
Other measures include steeper fines for red-light runners and speeders and reduced library hours.
Under an earlier agreement, the city’s police officers will delay their negotiated pay raises of 3 percent to December 2011 instead of getting those raises in January as is normally done. Firefighters also previously agreed to delay their raises.
The mayor also will abolish 158 positions in the city’s workforce, about 38 of which will be done through layoffs.
“These guys have done a great job of pushing down into the bureaucracy,” Hickenlooper said of his budget staff. “Everyone is thinking, ‘I don’t want to have my neighbor laid off. How do we save? How do we do?’ “
But after three years of budget slashing to overcome a combined total of more than $364 million in deficits, roughly 13 percent of expenditures, the mayor now is wondering whether he and other civic leaders should consider putting before the voters an overhaul of how the city finances itself.
In a meeting with the editorial board of The Denver Post, he said that even after revenues return to more normal levels, Internet retailing will continue to take a toll on sales-tax revenue, which finances roughly half of the city budget. He added that cellphone transmissions are taxed at a lower rate than the land lines they are replacing.
“Maybe it is our time to lay it out and have that discussion,” Hickenlooper said, adding that he recently brought the issue up with Roxane White, his chief of staff, and Claude Pumilia, the city’s chief financial officer.
Hickenlooper said a task force of civic leaders could study the issue and suggest a new revenue system voters could consider as early as next spring during the upcoming mayoral election.
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