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Coronavirus Having Greater Economic Impact On Denver City Budget Than Great Recession

DENVER (CBS4) - The coronavirus crisis is creating greater economic difficulties for Denver's budget managers than even the Great Recession did. Because of that, Mayor Michael Hancock announced on Thursday afternoon that city employees will have to take eight furlough days, or unpaid days off.

"We have worked to exhaust every other tool we had before taking this step," said Hancock, who is included among those who will take the mandatory furloughs. Twelve members of the Denver City Council have also agreed to take the furlough days.

Denver is facing a $226 million budget shortfall, according to Denver Chief Financial Officer Brendan Hanlon.

"That is primarily driven by sales and use tax, lodgers tax, occupational privilege tax and parking revenues. We've seen downward trends in each of these areas," Hanlon said.

During the Great Recession Denver's general fund dipped by 6.4%, something Hanlon said was "astonishing" at the time for city budget managers. Now, he said, the city is seeing a 10.5% loss in revenue.

"I could never have imagined seeing the numbers that we're seeing now and the gravity that it means to the services that we provide to the public every day here in Denver," he said.

Hancock said this is the first time there have been furloughs for Denver city employees since 2011. Five of the furlough days will coincide with national holidays and the remaining three will be flex days that city employees will have to take by the end of the year.

"This pandemic is not only a public health crisis, it's also fueling an economic crisis, the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression," Hancock said. "As we simultaneously try to save lives, we are looking to save jobs and protect those who are the most vulnerable among us."

The furloughs for Denver do not apply to uniformed employees like firefighters, police officers and sheriff's deputies.

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