Denver, Colorado

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Denver is the capital city of Colorado, and the most populous city in the state. Its government is consolidated with the government of Denver County.

Denver is nicknamed the Mile-High City because its official elevation is exactly one mile above sea level. The 105th meridian west of Greenwich passes through Union Station, making it the reference point for the Mountain Time Zone.

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of the City and County of Denver was 588,349 on July 1, 2007, making it the 26th most populous U.S. city. It is also the second largest city in the Mountain West after Phoenix. The city has the 10th largest central business district in the United States.

Elected officials

Denver is a consolidated city-county with a mayor elected on a nonpartisan ballot, a 13-member city council and an auditor. The Denver City Council is elected from 11 districts with two at-large council-members. It is responsible for passing and changing all laws, resolutions, and ordinances.

Denver has a strong mayor/weak city council government. The mayor can approve or veto any ordinances or resolutions approved by the council, makes sure all contracts with the city are kept and performed, signs all bonds and contracts, is responsible for the city budget, and can appoint people to various city departments, organizations, and commissions. However, the council can override the mayor's veto with a nine out of thirteen member vote, and the city budget must be approved and can be changed by a simple majority vote of the council.

All elected officials have four-year terms, with a maximum of three terms. Denver elections are non-partisan, but politicians identified as Democrats have long held a majority sway on Denver politics with most officials elected citywide having Democratic Party affiliation.

City council

See also: Colorado salaries and Colorado public pensions

According to the city website, "Denver City Council makes laws, budgets City money, and has authority to investigate City agencies and employees. The Denver City Council has 13 members, 11 from equally populated districts and two elected at large. All Council meetings are open to the public."[1]

The current members of the Denver City Council are:

  • Susan K. Shepherd, District 1
  • Jeanne Faatz, District 2
  • Paul D. Lopez, District 3
  • Peggy Lehmann, District 4 (Council President Pro Tem)
  • Mary Beth Susman, District 5
  • Charlie Brown, District 6
  • Chris Nevitt, District 7 (Council President)
  • Albus Brooks, District 8
  • Judy H. Montero, District 9
  • Jeanne Robb, District 10
  • Christopher Herndon, District 11
  • Robin Kniech, At Large
  • Deborah (Debbie) Ortega, At Large.

Council salaries

Denver, Colorado pays it city council members a living wage, which totals approximately $78,173 a year. They also receive about 30 percent more in benefits. In March, 2011, the city council voted to raise government salaries, including their own, by 6.6%. This will give council members a salary of $83,332 by July 2014. The president makes about $10,000 more. The mayor's salary will grow to $155,211 from $145,601. [2]


The office of Denver's Mayor has been occupied by a Democrat since the municipal general election of 1963, including the current mayor, Michael Hancock.

The mayor's salary is voted on by the city council every four years. In March 2011, the council voted to increase the pay of government workers by 6.6%. This will move the mayor's salary from $155,211 to $145,601 by 2014. [2]

Administrative officials

The mayor appoints many of the heads of departments in the Denver government. Some of his employees are below, and a full list of appointees is available on the Denver website. [3]

  • Rosalind Alston, Special Projects Coordinator for Human Rights and Community Relations, Human Rights and Community Relations
  • Heather Barry, Director of Business Affairs and Concessionaire Relations for Aviaton, Denver International Airport
  • Adrienne Benavidez, Manager of General Services, General Services
  • Tamela J. Burks-Lee, Interim Director, Small Business Office, Denver Office of Economic Development
  • Amber Callender, Director, Denver's Road Home, Denver Human Services
  • Kim Day, Manager of Aviation, Denver International Airport

Administrative salaries

See also: Colorado salaries

Government and administrator salaries were once available to the public, but the Colorado state government has removed many large public lists of government salaries.


2009- 2011 Budget Summary (Abridged) [4]
($ in Thousands) 2009 Actual 2010 Estimated 2011 Budget
Property Tax $237,082 $250,349 $253,312
Sales and Use Taxes 413,069 438,348 450,834
Other Taxes 94,510 94,586 96,381
Intergovernmental Revenues 115,609 114,965 117,304
Licenses & Permits 17,416 20,965 20,112
Total Revenues $1,188,321 $1,261,585 $1,261,556
General Administration $27,301 $26,528 $26,669
Economic Development 3,807 3,264 3,420
Independent Agencies 22,706 25,755 29,119
Finance 50,000 56,804 57,581
Community Planning and Development 16,387 15,932 15,704
General Services 63,448 68,013 69,261
Total Expenses: $1,234,762 $1,216,029 $1,296,450

Transparency and public records

Colorado citizens are guaranteed access to public records through the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA). Citizens can submit records requests and governments are required to respond within three business days. If the record is available electronically, it will be provided. If a hard copy is required, the citizen must pay $.25 per page. [5] The citizen must also pay compensation for research and work of the clerk. In Denver, this amounts to $25/hr.


The city of Denver provides a comprehensive tax guide for their citizens on its website. [6] Some of the taxes the city levies include a 3.62% Sales Tax [7].

Emergency personnel

Denver, Colorado employs its own police and fire departments.

Police department

The Denver Police Department states its mission as:[8]

  • Creating powerful crime prevention and reduction strategies.
  • Structuring the organization to promote professional, creative, well-trained, ethical, and accountable employees.
  • Utilizing the most modern and effective practices and methods.

The Denver Police Department has come under fire recently for cases of excessive force and police brutality. Between March and October 2011, 10 officers were fired from the police department. Six of these terminations occurred after officers lied about excessive-force complaints. According to the Denver post, "between 2004 and 2010, the city paid an average of five settlements for excessive force at an average cost of just over $600,000 a year. So far this year, the city has paid six settlements totaling $1.2 million." [9]

Fire department

The Denver Fire Department understands its mission as: "Providing quality, timely, and professional emergency services to those who live in, work in, and visit the City and County of Denver. Respecting each other through trust, pride, diversity, integrity, and training. Working together to achieve the highest levels of preparedness, prevention, and community involvement with a dedication to purpose." [10]

Website evaluation

See also: Evaluation of Colorado city websites
Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials Y
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Permits, zoning Y
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Audits Y
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Contracts Y
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Lobbying N
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Public Records P
Local Taxes Y
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School district websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

The good

  • Building permits are available on the website.[11]and zoning information. [12]
  • Agendas and minutes are available for City Council Meetings. [13]
  • City of Denver's bids and RFPs are posted.[14]
  • Budgets are posted.[15]
  • Extenstive Information on audits are available.[16]
  • The Mayor and city council officials contact information are posted online.[17]
  • Provides extensive information on local taxes.[18]

The bad

  • There is no information on the access of government records to the public. However, the name of the information officer and public records request forms are listed. [19]
  • Lobbying information and ethics is not noted

External links