Many committees continue their work on a series of planning initiatives that will guide Denver’s development in terms of land-use policy, recreation and mobility for decades into the future. DenveRight is the brand under which this effort is taking place. While large, Denver’s $1.4 billion annual budget is quickly absorbed paying for salaries (from permit desk personnel to City Council, to police and firefighters), maintenance of city infrastructure (roads, buildings), distribution of services and small to mid-level construction.
Unfortunately, many larger scale construction projects go wanting and millions of dollars in critical maintenance must be deferred to some future time. As a result, Denver currently has more than $1 billion of unmet needs on its six-year Capital Improvements Project roster – recreation centers, libraries, drainage projects and a variety of deferred maintenance items, etc. In order to address these unmet needs, in November of next year the City will ask voters to approve a general obligation bond package.
Our last such program was the $550 million Better Denver Bond Program voters approved in 2007 that funded more than 380 needed maintenance, renovation and construction projects. New libraries were built in west Denver, Green Valley Ranch and Stapleton; essential renovations were completed at six fire stations as well as construction of a new station in Lowry; renovations improved city sponsored child care facilities across the city; and a new Denver Animal Shelter. These were but a part of the improvements completed by the Better Denver Bonds.
As previous bond issues have been paid off, Denver is able to issue new bonds in the neighborhood of $500-$600 million without a need to raise taxes on Denver property owners.
If the bond package proposed surpasses that amount, a tax increase would be required to make the bond issue feasible. While the six-year CIP list will inform the bond package, citizen input is being collected to gain the pulse of community concerns. What will you be willing to have your tax dollars pay for? Contact my office for a schedule of events to discuss this issue.
Our District 6 is home to a remarkably diverse student population of immigrant and refugee children from around the world that brings a richness of culture that enhances the neighborhoods in which we live. Together, students at our local institutions represent some 60+ countries, speaking a similar number of unique languages and dialects. The disturbing discourse of the recent presidential election has unleashed a flurry of abusive behavior directed toward this valued segment of our community. At our November 21 meeting, Council passed a proclamation affirming our support of civil rights for all members of our community.
Following is a statement from South High School Principal Jennifer Hanson, detailing the reality of how the current climate is affecting her student body. “As a school leader, one always has the safety of one’s students as top of mind. The intensity of that role took on a whole new context on Tuesday, Nov 8. As one of the most diverse schools in the state, South High School welcomes students from more than 60 countries. Our student body of 1,600 has 73% students of color, 42% of students learn English as an additional language and 63% of our student body receives free and reduced lunch. South embraces all students and encourages them to honor their native culture, language and beliefs.
We support students to be confident in who they are as people regardless of their national origin, language, religion, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation/identity, race or class. As a result of this deeply rooted belief in our differences as our strength, South is a place where the balance of such diversity brings us openness, exploration and a global environment in the middle of Washington Park neighborhoods. Through this intense time, none of these issues have come from our own students; it was instead adults in the Denver community. We met with RTD and they have placed undercover security guards on the bus lines most of our students ride. In a climate of uncertainty, South will never be a place where hate is tolerated or normalized; we will continue to embrace our students and place their safety as our priority. I urge the city of Denver to take these incidents seriously and issue a social justice proclamation as we continue to work together for the amazing students who hold our future so dear.”
As the season of celebration unfolds let us all dig a little deeper into the well of compassion and be the best community of people that we can be.