Hickenlooper finds more library funding -- by taking a chunk out of his homeless plan

Moments from now, Mayor John Hickenlooper will be meeting with the media to talk about a revision in his budget plan -- additional bucks to save the Byers library , which had been marked for closure, and keep other branches open for longer hours. And where is he getting the dough? Well, over a million is coming from homeless program funding that he announced mere weeks ago. Back then, City Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz was among the few politicos willing to oppose this feel-good measure, calling the timing poor given that police and fire department personnel had just agreed to forgo raises, suggesting that Hick's plan to end homelessness in ten years was unrealistic, and arguing that cash for this purpose shouldn't come from the general fund. Now, it looks as if a lot of it won't. Read the Mayor's Office release below:

Mayor Hickenlooper, City Council restore library hours in 2010 proposed budget

DENVER, CO -- WEDNESDAY, Oct. 14, 2009 -- Mayor John Hickenlooper today announced he will increase funding for Denver libraries in the proposed 2010 budget by $910,800. The change comes on the heels of suggestions by City Council to consider funding alternatives to avoid closing the Byers branch and reducing hours at several library branches.

The additional library funding means:

• The Byers branch will remain open and operate for one more year.

• Four hours on Sunday will be restored at the Central library.

• Eight hours in a week will be restored at the Schlessman branch.

• Eight hours in a week will be restored at four other branches - Bear Valley, Montbello, Woodbury and University Hills.

Hickenlooper also announced the City will spend $260,000 to fund a pilot program that would allow for a transition at the La Alma Recreation Center to be developed with the community over the next year. The department also has committed to find $75,000 of savings within its proposed budget should the transition process take longer than anticipated.

In response to budget requests from City Council, funding for these changes will come from:

• $1,050,000 previously included in the general fund for homeless programs (see more below).

• $350,000 previously included in a business incentives special revenue fund used to attract new business to Denver. The fund used by the Officer of Economic Development will still have $250,000 available to help businesses relocate to Denver and create new jobs.

• $40,000 previously included in the general fund for collective bargaining in 2010.

The City will reduce proposed general fund spending for homeless programs to $1.25 million. That is about half the amount originally proposed in the 2010 budget and will support detox and outreach services for Denver's Road Home previously funded by Denver Human Services. These programs are vital to the community and provide significant savings to the City.

A final draft of the 2010 proposed budget will be delivered to City Council on Oct. 19, and a public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 26. The City Council will consider final approval of the budget in early November.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts