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Leaky Roof? Time to Invest!

Bold Leadership, not Business as Usual

Our roof is leaking in the City and County of Denver. The managers are putting out more buckets. The Budget Office is closing off rooms. The politicians are pledging that the rain will stop soon. Where is the leader to say it’s time to invest in a new roof?

In 1983, in the midst of a recession, Mayor Federico Peña urged us to “Imagine a Great City”: to invest in prosperity. During the past 28 years we built a new airport, convention center, library, art museum, justice center, and three sports stadiums. It is partly because of these investments that our local economy has stayed healthier than the national average.

Today, with nation's our economy in even worse shape, is not the time to shrink from our commitment to invest in the future. On the contrary, now is the time to make the wise investments we need to create long-term economic prosperity. This means investing in community.

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Rather than cutting services further or raising taxes, I propose that we capitalize an existing stream of revenue to cover our burgeoning budget gap and establish a fund to stabilize future spending. Like other cities around the country, Denver can draw on exisiting revenues from parking meters to generate a significant source of short-term money. While maintaining full control of meter rates and management, we can attract an investor who will give the city an estimated $100 million up-front for the next 15 years of meter revenues.

I am the only candidate with a detailed plan for next year's budget shortfall. I suggest a balance of spending cuts, selected delays in capital spending, new revenues, and a portion of the parking capitalization funds described above. Most of the remaining parking capitalization dollars will be used to create a Fiscal Stability Fund for long-term investments. Read our budget paper, Invest in Our Community for more details.

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Establishing a Fiscal Stability Fund

Beyond helping to cover our budget gap, another 40% of the money from parking meter capitalization will be used to establish a Fiscal Stability Fund for long-term investments. This fund will provide $20 million per year over the next two years for investments that provide either direct, short-term, or longer-term impacts.

The Fiscal Stability Fund will be used for investments that save us money later. Examples of savings from such investments include:

fewer jail beds from investing in crime prevention
lower city energy bills from investing in energy efficiency
reduced homelessness from investments in mental health,
fewer school dropouts from investing in summer kids programs

Over time, as investments become a normal part of the city’s budget strategy, our city will be able to reduce our spending on jails, child welfare, emergency room care, detox, and other social costs that are currently driving much of our budget growth. Just as important, we will be able to focus our limited resources in agencies like Human Services and Police on preventing and solving problems, which will save additional money over time and improve our quality of life.

Sincerely,

Doug Linkhart

Read the full plan here

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