In the wake of the Great Recession, Denver's city government spent the last several years dealing with the former scenario-but not this time.
Denver voters approved ballot question 2A, which added $30.4 million to city coffers.
"The past four years were difficult," Denver Budget Director Brendan Hanlon said. "We reduced $530 million worth of budget gaps, so it's a nice change."
That enabled the city council to reopen the budget for next year and put more money in.
For perspective, $30 million is only about a three percent addition to the total budget, but Denver plans to stretch it.
The city council gave initial approval to a plan to spend that money, detailed below. The plan is expected to pass its final vote on Dec. 17.
Here's a breakdown of what that money will pay for, in order of the cost:
$5 MILLION- END FURLOUGHS
City employees were set to receive a pay cut next year in the form of five unpaid days off. They've had mandatory furloughs since 2009 as way to help balance the budget.
"I would guess that it is a morale boost for city employees to have their paycheck whole again, but there's also a service benefit to it as well," Hanlon said.
Residents won't have to deal with city offices being closed because of those furlough days.
$4.5 MILLION- STREET REPAIR
The city will be able to resurface an additional 300 lane-miles of roadways that are in need of attention.
This sounds like a lot, until you consider that the city has 1,300 lane-miles that haven't been re-paved for 20 years and are in poor condition.
$3.45 MILLION- TECHNOLOGY INVESTMENT
This money will mostly be spend behind-the-scenes to upgrade city computer and communications systems.
$3.1 MILLION- RESTORE LIBRARY HOURS
Library hours were also targeted as a way to save funds in the wake of the recession. This money will restore hours to pre-recession levels.
All city libraries will be open at least 48 hours a week next year, with some open more than that.
$3 MILLION- FUND BALANCE INCREASE
Think of this as emergency savings. This money allows the city to have a larger cushion to cover unexpected expenses.
$2.55 MILLION- CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE
This funding will expand the city's program that helps low-income families afford child care. The income level to qualify will be adjusted up, to cover more people.
$2.4 MILLION- FREE CHILD ACCESS TO REC CENTERS & POOLS
School-age children in Denver will once again be able to use rec centers and public pools free of charge.
$2 MILLION- RECRUIT MORE POLICE & FIREFIGHTERS
Denver's police department has not held a police academy since 2008. This fixes that, allowing 100 more police and firefighters to be recruited and trained.
$2 MILLION- REPLACE AGING POLICE & FIRE VEHICLES
This money will buy 46 new police cruisers and one new fire truck. (The fire truck costs $450,000)
$500,000- AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS
$500,000- PARKS MAINTENANCE
$500,000- BUSINESS INCENTIVES
If you want more detail on any of the above programs, thumb through the city budget director's presentation on the plan.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)