Renewing City Government to Reflect a New Economic Reality

Like families and businesses everywhere, Denver city government has struggled to make ends meet during the recession. Michael grew up without much money in some of Denver’s toughest neighborhoods, so he knows the value of a hard-earned dollar. As the CEO of a nonprofit, Michael understands how to balance a budget, manage a payroll and run an organization. And as President of the City Council, Michael worked closely with Mayor Hickenlooper the past three years to tighten the city’s belt by closing budget shortfalls of $350 million.

Denver’s next mayor will have to eliminate another $100 million deficit in 2012 and each year for the foreseeable future until the city corrects a 10 percent to 15 percent structural imbalance in its $900 million General Fund. Bringing spending in line with revenues will be one of Michael’s top priorities, and a comprehensive review of the city’s finances – called for by Michael for the last two years – is now getting underway.

Revenues simply are not keeping up with expenses. Gaping shortfalls of this magnitude are not sustainable, and they cannot be solved by tinkering around the edges. Recently announced federal and state budget cuts will impact the city’s finances as well.

As Mayor, Michael will ensure fiscal responsibility and strong oversight of taxpayer dollars. He will eliminate programs that no longer reflect the needs of Denver residents and businesses. He will streamline services, offices and functions that are repetitive or wasteful. And he will achieve ongoing savings by making government more efficient, effective and customer-friendly.

This will require tough and at times unpopular decisions, shared sacrifice and collaborative problem-solving. But by renewing and realigning government, by  providing strong leadership, Michael will make Denver a better place for all residents, businesses and neighborhoods.

Tough Questions, Tough Decisions

  • Michael will engage all of Denver in an open and transparent process of examining and prioritizing what services we value the most, how they are best delivered, how much they truly cost, and how we pay for them. He will ask the tough questions and make the tough decisions necessary to re-shape city government for today and for a sustainable future.
  • As Mayor, Michael will request a detailed fiscal analysis for all new ordinances and policies so the cost of new proposals is clear to the public and the City Council.
  • Michael will invite all members of the public to participate in resetting priorities and redefining city government through a series of open meetings, interactive online surveys and other forms of public input.
  • Michael already has begun convening roundtables of business owners and economic developers. He is gathering their input to help remove obstacles to economic recovery and to help improve the city’s fiscal sustainability.  
  • Michael also will engage members of the city’s 11,000-employee workforce to provide their front-line ideas on how to make government more efficient, cost-effective and innovative. Employees know better than anyone where systems are outdated and inefficient, and they can provide some of the most creative ideas for improvement.


Comprehensive Analysis of Government Structure, Finances and Operations

For the past two years, Michael has called for a comprehensive analysis of city government, including its structure, finances and operations. That review is now underway and is expected to produce recommendations within the new mayor’s first 180 days in office. Realigning city spending with available revenues in a post-recession environment will not be easy. It will require a complete re-thinking and re-prioritizing of core services, particularly when 70 percent of the General Fund is committed to personnel costs, and it will require all options to be on the table.

As Mayor, Michael will:

  • Realign resources across various agencies to reduce wasteful redundancies, giving close scrutiny to the Department of Safety, Division of Environmental Health, youth programs and services, and Office of Economic Development.
  • Reduce the many layers of bureaucracy involved in revenue collection, finance, operations, budgeting, planning and permitting.
  • Increase efficiencies, save money and improve service delivery by spinning off, consolidating or eliminating certain functions.
  • Better deploy technology to streamline city services and make government more modern, efficient, transparent and accountable.
  • Pursue new partnerships with stakeholder agencies such as Denver Public Schools, non-profits and neighboring communities to increase efficiencies and save money.
  • Examine innovative best-practices in communities around the state and across the country to save money and streamline services in areas such as jails, drug-and-alcohol treatment, prevention, diversion, health and human services, and children and youth services.
  • Improve the effectiveness of the city’s 3-1-1 system.

Peak Performance

Central to Michael’s plan to realign city government is Peak Performance. Modeled after the successful CitiStat initiative in other cities across the country, Peak Performance will provide direct, real-time performance data that will allow Michael and top city leaders to continually improve the way city government delivers services to its customers – and save millions.

The Peak Performance system of constant analysis and feedback will infuse government with a nimble and responsive private-sector model to drive efficiencies, cut costs and meet high standards of performance. Peak Performance data will allow Michael to make tough decisions to eliminate, consolidate and streamline services based on facts and finances, not politics.

Using the Peak Performance system, Michael will establish clear goals for each department, including the speed and quality of services delivered, citizen input, and cost. Outcomes will be measured against goals, and in regular meetings with the Mayor’s Office, department managers will be held accountable for not meeting their benchmarks and congratulated for their successes.

As Mayor, Michael will use Peak Performance to:

  • Cut red tape and improve processing times for permits, inspections and other services vital to job creation and business growth. Peak Performance will be piloted in key offices such as Economic Development, Excise and Licenses, and Development Services.
  • Establish standards, benchmarks and checklists to help new businesses start and existing businesses expand by letting companies know exactly what to expect, including how long it will take to obtain permits.
  • Help each neighborhood receive the same quality of services and speed of delivery. Under Peak Performance, Michael will map performance measures neighborhood-by-neighborhood to identify and eliminate service inequities.
  • Replicate innovative services being provided by city employees and realign resources so frontline workers can do their jobs with the tools they need.
  • Identify new ways to deploy 21st century technology to improve service delivery.


Michael knows there are no easy answers or simple solutions to the city’s budget challenges. But as Mayor, Michael will fix the structural imbalance in Denver’s budget and lead us toward a sustainable fiscal future for all of Denver.

Michael's Strategic Plan to Renew Government in a New Economy.pdf141.16 KB