Denver Mayor Announces $45 Million in Budget Cuts to Fund Migrant Aid

Denver allocates $45.9M to support migrants, leading to $8M police budget cuts. Mayor emphasizes sustainable plan to aid newcomers while maintaining critical public services.

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Denver Mayor Announces $45 Million in Budget Cuts to Fund Migrant Aid

Denver Mayor Announces $45 Million in Budget Cuts to Fund Migrant Aid

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston unveiled a $45.9 million plan for 2024 to support programs for migrants arriving in the city, resulting in over $8 million in budget cuts for the police department. The surge in spending on migrants in Denver escalated from $2 million per month in August to $15 million by December.

While migrant numbers have decreased from a peak of around 5,000 in shelters in January to approximately 1,000 currently, the mayor emphasized the need for a sustainable plan to treat newcomers with dignity while avoiding severe cuts to city services. As part of the budget adjustments, the police department will see a reduction of $8.4 million, or 1.9% of its budget, primarily through limiting hiring for open positions. The fire department's budget will also be trimmed by less than 1%, or $2.5 million, mainly by not filling vacant positions.

The new spending will include the establishment of a 'Denver Asylum Seekers Program' and a 'WorkReady' program to assist migrants. Despite the budget adjustments, a spokesperson for the mayor refuted claims of 'defunding' the police, highlighting plans to add 167 new police recruits in 2024 and assuring that public services will not be impacted.

Why this matters: The migrant influx in Denver has strained city resources, forcing budget cuts across various departments to fund aid and housing for the newcomers. The city's response to the crisis highlights the challenges faced by local governments in balancing the needs of migrants with maintaining critical public services.

Mayor Johnston stated, "The city is taking the first step in providing a long-term, sustainable response to the newcomer crisis that avoids significant cuts to public services." The budget cuts were unanimously advanced by a panel of council members and will next go to the full City Council for approval.

Key Takeaways

  • Denver allocates $45.9M for migrant programs, cutting $8.4M from police budget.
  • Migrant numbers decreased from 5,000 to 1,000, but city seeks sustainable plan.
  • Fire dept. budget trimmed by $2.5M, but 167 new police recruits planned for 2024.
  • New 'Denver Asylum Seekers' and 'WorkReady' programs to assist migrants.
  • Budget cuts unanimously advanced by council, awaiting full City Council approval.