Denver families and businesses deserve a transparent city government that will continuously work to become more efficient, modern and fiscally responsible by setting clear goals and holding our agencies accountable for their performance.
For the past two years, I have called for a comprehensive analysis of city government finances and operations. This review, by Denver's Structural Financial Task Force, is now getting underway.
On Wednesday, the Task Force announced to City Council that they would open their meetings to the public. Without question, this was the right decision.
My vision for this review has always been to engage all of Denver -- citizens, businesses, and organizations -- in the process of reviewing our city government's finances. An honest evaluation of our shared priorities, of what services we value the most, and how we pay for them, requires all stakeholders at the table to ensure the Task Force explores every option based on facts and finances, not politics.
We cannot lead Denver back to economic prosperity and fiscal sustainability if we fail to include our strongest resource -- our people. Realigning government will require tough decisions. Including our citizenry from the beginning is a proven process, tested during the consideration of the Better Denver Bonds program. Allowing greater understanding of difficult decisions upfront will build trust in the process and bolster support for implementation later.
Denver is at a crossroads as it continues to climb slowly out of the worst recession since the Great Depression; and it's these straightforward, innovative and transparent solutions that the next mayor will need to bring to the table.
The city faces an estimated $100 million budget gap next year and will have to continue to close budget deficits for the foreseeable future. Further, the 2012 state and federal projected budgets serve as a reminder that every city needs to stay lean.
While the budget may present challenges, it also presents immense opportunity.
I unveiled my Denver fiscal blueprint this week to renew government and bring Denver's spending in line with revenues. I am calling for a complete rethinking of our core services and priorities for Denver city government and ensure no neighborhood gets left behind.
As mayor, I will continue an open discussion to redefine city government. My proposal calls for greater transparency by requiring detailed fiscal analyses for all new ordinances and policies so that costs are clear to the public and City Council.
In addition to public engagement, my plan calls for strategically using the Task Force's findings to help reevaluate city services and identify waste, repetition and obstacles to economic recovery.We will launch a new initiative, called Peak Performance, which will measure outcomes against goals with a proven private-sector model to drive efficiencies, cut costs and meet high standards of performance. Peak Performance will:
- Cut red tape and improve processing times for permits, inspections and other services vital to job creation and business growth.
- Establish standards to help new businesses start and existing businesses expand.
- Help each neighborhood receive the same quality of services and speed of delivery.
- Replicate innovative services being provided by city employees.
- Identify new ways to deploy 21st century technology to improve service delivery.
These strategies will be aligned with objectives to bolster economic development, support small businesses, create high-paying jobs, strengthen schools and neighborhoods, and enhance the delivery of city services. As mayor, I will spearhead efforts to do what private businesses do daily to survive in difficult times: become more efficient and innovative.
Most importantly -- I will listen to Denver. I have already begun engaging businesses, neighborhoods and city employees in roundtable discussions across Denver, listening to their concerns and sharing ideas about our collective future. Together we will fix the structural imbalances in the budget, bring jobs back to support our economy and lead the city toward a sustainable fiscal future for all of Denver.