How the Mayor Is Closing the Budget Gap

September 1 2009, 11:10 AM

hickenlooper-johnNinety-one Denver police officers are expected to lose their jobs following a vote yesterday in which the officers' union decided not to compromise their pay raises next year even though the city is facing a $120 million budget deficit. Vincent Gavito, president of the Police Protection Association, tells 7News he believes the city should cut money elsewhere: "I think that was the message we made [Monday] was that the management of the money needs to be reigned in before we take another pay cut." Meanwhile, Mayor John Hickenlooper's office showed it can stand tough on the budget. "The police union had two choices: forego a raise next year and save officers' jobs or keep the raise and we would be left with no choice but to lay off officers," says Kelly Brough, the mayor's chief of staff, of the police department, which is comprised of 1,518 officers.

Hickenlooper has been struggling to find ways to close the budget gap. Yesterday, he proposed a voluntary retirement program for the city's oldest workers. About 960 would qualify to leave their jobs by November 30 and earn $500 a month for 30 months after their retirement in an effort to reduce the city's long-term payroll, according to the Denver Business Journal. "We anticipate this decision could result in millions of dollars in savings next year and in the years following, and it will help minimize layoffs," Hickenlooper points out in a statement (via the Cherry Creek News).