Denver to furlough employees to close $226M budget shortfall

Denver employees must take eight unpaid furlough days by the end of the year to help the city bridge the growing budget gap caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Michael Hancock told the workforce in a letter Wednesday.

“COVID-19 has dramatically changed our everyday life and has taken a terrible toll on our national, state and local economies,” Hancock wrote. “We are now projecting a $226 million gap in our General Fund revenues.”

That estimate is up $40 million from similar projections a month ago. 

Hancock will announce more details about the furloughs at a news conference Thursday but he noted in the letter that five of the eight mandatory furlough days are already scheduled for July 6, Sept. 4, Oct. 19, Nov. 27 and Dec. 24. The remaining three furlough days are flexible and can be scheduled throughout the year.

Those eight furlough days are estimated to save a sorely needed $16 million, Hancock said.

“The economic impact our local businesses are facing is also having a dramatic impact on our city budget,” Hancock wrote.

City employees last faced furloughs during the Great Recession.

“That was an incredibly difficult decision to make then, and it is no less difficult to make now,” Hancock wrote. “Working together, we came through that crisis, and built a local economy that was among the strongest in the nation, and I am confident that we will get through this challenge as well.”

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