In the wake of Denver Mayor Mike Johnston’s announcement earlier this month of $45 million in budget cuts, Denver is now poised to give the green light to allocate $30 million over the next three years for stagehand services at city-owned theatres and arenas across the city.

Johnston unveiled the Newcomer Program Strategy which will slash up to $45 million to avoid laying off or furloughing city employees amid its migrant crisis.

Expenses Surge Due To Influx Of Migrants

An estimated 40,000 migrants have entered the city since December 2022. This has led to an over 7 times increase in the city’s monthly expenses from $2 million per month in August 2023 to $15 million a month by December 2023 because of the surge in influx of migrants. 

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The city has also mentioned that it has spent more than $68 million serving the migrants.

Denver Finds Sustainable Solution To Migrant Crisis

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said back in March that his state has ferried over 16,900 migrants to Denver since May 18.

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“After more than a year of facing this crisis together, Denver finally has a sustainable plan for treating our newcomers with dignity while avoiding the worst cuts to city services,” Johnston said in a media release prior to the $45 million budget cuts.

Providing Stagehand Services At Iconic Venues

The contract between the city and county of Denver and ASM Global will deliver services to different places, including Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Denver Coliseum, Denver Performing Arts Complex, and perhaps the Loretto Heights Theater.

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The contract fits out services which include stagehand management, staffing, supervision, consulting, and payroll administration. It will come to a close on Dec. 31, 2026, but the city can opt to extend it with two one-year renewal options.

Council Set To Vote On Contract 

The city’s council is set to cast a vote on the contract at its next meeting scheduled for April 22, according to documents.

Source: The Denver Post/Hyoung Chang

The stagehands’ services include tasks such as setting up, running, and dismantling theatrical and musical performances, which may involve roles like truck loaders, movers, riggers, carpenters, and audio and lighting technicians.

Denver’s Migrant Sheltering Snapshot: Current Figures and Influx Trends

The city’s migrant sheltering dashboard reveals that 78 migrants are currently living in short-term shelters and 710 are being housed in hotels as of Thursday.

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With not less than 40,000 arrivals in just 2023 alone—as mentioned earlier— the massive surge in migrant influx into the city has contributed to a total of around 710,000 migrants resident in the city.

More Details On Denver’s Newcomer Program Strategy

To address the crisis, Mayor Mike Johnston announced changes to the city’s strategy as regards how it caters to migrants who have made their way to the Mile High City. The city’s assistance strategy will now center on assisting newcomers with finding stable and sustainable sources of living rather than living in shelters.

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To that end, the city will be shutting down four of the migrant shelters over the next month. One shelter will be closed each week over the course of four weeks.

Shutting Down Four Migrant Centres To Save Denver Up To $60 Million

One of the reasons for the change is to help cut down the overall costs of maintaining the migrant program. Shutting down those four shelters will save the city as much as $60 million. 

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Denver recently had to slash services to the DMV and Parks & Rec Departments to cover the $180 million extra expenses that weren’t initially included in the budget. 

Denver City Reinstates Length-of-Stay Policy For Migrants

Johnston also announced that the city has reinstated its length-of-stay policy for the migrants. Earlier this month, Denver City brought back a policy to make families leave shelters after crossing the 42-day limit. About 2,500 people have successfully moved from shelters in the past six weeks according to the city’s mayor. 

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Now, Denver City wants to help more migrants get permission to work. They’ve already helped 600 people, and they aim to assist 700 more in the next two weeks.

Denver City’s Efforts To Enhance Services For Migrants

“This allows us to deliver people high-quality dignified services and also reduce the cost we spend to make sure that they are successful and the city is successful. And we think that is the path forward Denver should be proud of,” said Johnston. 

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Johnston also mentioned that the shelters will be closing because the number of migrants that are arriving has slowed down recently. They will not be displaced but rather asked to move to other shelters until the length of stay ends. 

Police Department To Be Defunded

Denver City Council’s Finance and Governance Committee has also sanctioned plans to defund the police in order to cover up for the migrant crisis that is costing the Democrat-led city about $89.9 million. 

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The finance committee decided that $41 million in cuts is needed from various city departments in order to house migrants.

Police Down $8.4M, Sheriff $3.8M, Fire $2.4M. 

The police department is set to face budget reductions of $8.4 million, while the sheriff’s office might see a decrease of $3.8 million, and the fire department is expected to cut $2.4 million. 

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The city’s Mayor, Mike Johnston, recently revealed the budget plan, designating $89.9 million to support incoming undocumented migrants, whom he calls ‘newcomers.’

Denver’s 2024 Migrant Aid Budget Breakdown

The amount will be gotten from approximately $45 million that is used to run public programs and services while the remaining will be gotten from city-wide budget cuts. 

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Denver will spend the $89.9 million for migrant aid programs in 2024, dividing it into $3 million for ‘Program Administration,’ $51.7 million for ‘Shelter and Housing,’ $9.7 million for ‘Supportive Services,’ $9.5 million for ‘One-Time Capital Costs,’ and $10 million for ‘Contingency.’

Social Media Reactions To The Move 

‘Kinda crazy how much of an insult this is to Colorado’s residents. You’ve got money for migrants but meanwhile, homeless people have ruined downtown and every piece of infrastructure needs attention,’ said Spencer Davis on Facebook.

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‘What about our local homeless, veterans that really need help,’ said Michele Santi. ‘Put that 89 million into the schools instead,’ said Quin Williams. The Colorado capital has become saturated with new migrants crossing over the border even though the city is already at its threshold in terms of resources.