Denver mayor rejects beacon budget amendment | David Heitz

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By David Heitz/NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colorado) Denver Mayor Michael Hancock rejected a $1.1 million City Council budget amendment that would place a flashing beacon in each of the council’s 11 districts.

In a letter to city council, the mayor said it would be “irresponsible” to approve the amendment and cause the city’s reserves to plunge below 15%. “I am disappointed that this amendment seeks to bring the fund balance below this threshold, in direct conflict with our policy,” the mayor wrote. “This fundamental fiscal policy has been a hallmark of our strong fiscal stewardship and has served to protect us against economic downturns and the effects of the pandemic. With an uncertain economic outlook for next year, including the possibility of a recession, it would be short-sighted and irresponsible to start the year with our reserves – by any amount – falling below this 15% level.

Council members maintain that the flashing beacons slow down traffic and are absolutely necessary. Pedestrian safety is a top concern among their constituents, council members say.

Council can overrule mayor’s refusal

The city council can overrule the mayor’s rejection, but if it does, the mayor has pledged to direct the finance department to keep department budgets within that 15% range anyway. Hancock said in his letter that there should already be enough money in the budget to place a flashing beacon in every district of the council. “(The Department of Transport and Infrastructure) is committed to prioritizing (rectangular flashing beacons) as the primary pedestrian safety measure in current proposed budgets for transport and mobility projects. This includes a commitment to install 10 to 12 additional rectangular flashing beacons throughout Denver in 2023 in coordination with other pedestrian safety improvements.

The mayor said in his letter that the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure recognizes City Council’s desire to add flashing beacons and “shares its recognition of the value that these traffic control devices add to the streets of our local neighborhoods”.

CdeBaca amendments to help homeless people fail

Council member Amanda Sawyer presented the beacon amendment, which the council unanimously approved.

“As you prepare to vote on the 2023 budget on Monday, I want to thank you for productive discussions and shared priorities that reflect the needs of our residents,” the mayor wrote in his letter. “I hope you will continue our shared commitment to strong fiscal management as we face uncertain economic conditions in the year ahead.”

Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca proposed 29 amendments to the budget, but her fellow councilors rejected them all. CdeBaca proposed the amendments after homeless people and their allies told council members they needed basic sanitation services like toilets, water and garbage collection. CdeBaca’s proposal would have cut funding for police patrols to pay for its budget amendments.

The council will vote on the budget on Monday.

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