Facing $80 million budget deficit, Hickenlooper again asks for help
Mayor John Hickenlooper addresses the Democratic National Convention.
Last year the city and Mayor Hickenlooper faced a $160 million budget deficit. In the absence of enough moves by the Mayor and his staff to balance the budget, the Mayor appealed to city employees to provide ideas on how to bridge that gap.
The Mayor faces a similar challenge with the next budget cycle which projects a $80 million shortfall. Adding to this year’s difficulty is the fact that the city exhausted its reserves to bridge last year’s gap.
The Mayor’s letter to city employees was issued yesterday.
April 21, 2010
Dear City Employees:
We proved last year that no budget challenge is too great to overcome – even though we faced the greatest drop in revenue since the Great Depression. It wasn’t easy. But with your help we balanced a budget that started with a $160 million deficit.
We face a similar challenge today, although the hill to climb is not as steep thanks to your continued efforts to work efficiently and save money. We are starting this month to build the budget for 2011. The projected gap between revenues and expenditures is $80 million.
We are confident we can make up this difference with more good ideas and hard work. We also see signs that our economy is on the rebound. For example, core sales tax revenue collected by the City in February showed a 3.3 percent increase over a year earlier. This marked the third consecutive month of improved sales tax collections after 14 consecutive months of declines.
Sales tax revenue makes up nearly half of the City’s general fund budget. Last year, the City collected $387.8 million – a 10 percent reduction from 2008. We are projecting a modest increase in sales tax revenue this year of approximately 3.5 percent. That’s enough to return funding to the same level seen in 2006.
We will continue to monitor sales tax and other revenue carefully in the coming months to see if any adjustments must be made as we head toward 2011. Right now, we are not expecting any mid-year cuts or significant spending changes. Our focus is steadfast on maintaining core services for our residents, creating sustainable changes that lead to budget savings and finding ways to reinvest in our City workforce.
None of this can be achieved without your hard work and assistance. Last year, we asked for your budget-saving suggestions and you responded in a big way. We collected more than 800 ideas about how to cut costs or work more efficiently. We’re asking you to send your suggestions again this year to MileHighMayor@denvergov.org or call 720-865-8181. We will tell you about the best ideas we receive as the 2011 budget is created this summer.
Thank you for your continued professionalism and service to our community.
Mayor John Hickenlooper