Best Practice in Communicating Capital Improvement Strategies:
Elevate Denver GO Bond
The City and County of Denver periodically authorizes general obligation bonds to restore, replace, and expand infrastructure and capital assets across the city. Under the mayor’s leadership, a complex planning process was initiated to identify, evaluate, and recommend to voters a series of infrastructure investments to help continue to make Denver a
world class city. The project was implemented solely by
city staff with minimal resources and the involvement of over 100 staff citywide to provide subject matter expertise, evaluate project ideas, and staff community events.
The public engagement phase of the process, the most robust in the city’s history, resulted in over 4,000 comments and ideas from the community. The foundational emphasis for the planning process was to be inclusive, equitable, and designate up to half of the investment for transportation and mobility improvements.
This planning process was a turning point for the city to address deferred capital maintenance and address population growth by fixing and repairing existing assets and constructing new ones. The robust public outreach process helped Denver residents feel engaged, informed, and represented, and ultimately led to strong approval of a
$937 million bond package for over 460 projects.
The proposed bond package was designed to retain current tax rates, while saving taxpayer dollars by repairing infrastructure before it deteriorates and providing new facilities for the growth of the city. GFOA recommends that organizations develop a communications plan for public participation focused on explaining capital needs, options, and strategies and facilitating public feedback in advance of any major capital program. Capital programs gain from the support of the community both to ensure that capital projects will deliver expected and desired outcomes as well as to ensure there is adequate support for the investment.