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Fort Collins selected for new program addressing city budget crises and advancing equity

Released on Monday, October 19, 2020
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The City of Fort Collins has been selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies as one of 30 municipalities that will participate in the What Works Cities City Budgeting for Equity and Recovery program. This new effort will help cities confront budget crises while strengthening their commitment to equity in the wake of COVID-19.

The program will help cities develop and implement plans to drive financial recovery and ensure that their budget crises do not disproportionately harm low-income residents and communities of color. It will also provide the opportunity for leaders from the 30 cities to problem solve with a network of peers and produce a set of tactics for other local leaders to follow.

Equity and inclusion leading with race, and program and policy support for low-income residents are key priorities for City Council and are included in the City’s 2020 Strategic Plan.

In response to the economic impacts of COVID-19, the City of Fort Collins made budget cuts to address an estimated $31 million revenue shortfall in 2020. The 2021 budget reflects an additional $13 million reduction to balance reduced revenues as the economy continues to recover. City Council is scheduled to consider first reading of the 2021 budget adoption ordinance on Nov. 4.

“We’re thrilled to be invited to the Budgeting for Equity and Recovery program,” said Mayor Wade Troxell. “As City Council is finalizing our 2021 budget, we are acutely aware of the challenges cities are facing during this pandemic, and the ways certain budget decisions can negatively impact historically marginalized people in our community. This partnership across cities is a terrific opportunity to simultaneously support community and City Council priorities around both fiscal health and equity.”

The What Works Cities program will cover challenges most pressing to budget leaders, including:

  • Understanding, accessing and spending COVID relief funds
  • Financing that enables strong budget health
  • Increasing revenues in a way that doesn’t disproportionately impact low-income families
  • Incorporating an equity analysis into major budget decisions, including cuts

Program participants, which will include mayors and city financial leaders, will receive guidance from finance experts in the public, private and academic sectors; engage with their peers in interactive workshops; and receive customized support and technical assistance, valued at more than $100,000 per city. What Works Cities will share the learnings and resources developed during the program publicly to ensure that cities everywhere are able to apply them to their local budgeting process.

Nearly 90 percent of U.S. cities expect revenue shortfalls in the wake of COVID-19. Cities are projected to lose $360 billion in revenue over the next three years while still needing to deliver community services. The new What Works Cities program will help city leaders navigate these high stakes decisions with the latest data, trusted expertise, and peer input. The program also aims to set the standard for how local governments respond to budget crises and advance equity.

In Colorado, the cities of Denver and Pueblo were also selected to participate.

About What Works Cities

What Work Cities, launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies in April 2015, is a national initiative that helps cities use data and evidence more effectively to tackle their most pressing challenges and improve residents’ lives. It is one of the largest-ever philanthropic efforts to enhance cities’ use of data and evidence. Through the initiative’s expert partners, cities around the country are receiving technical assistance, guidance and resources to succeed in making more informed decisions, tackling local challenges, and delivering more effective services and programs for their residents. Cities in the What Works Cities network also gain access to a collaborative network of peers in cities across the country. For more information, visit whatworkscities.org or follow us on Twitter.

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