With the end of the pandemic both predicted and planned for, the budget presentations to the City Council on Monday, May 17 and Tuesday, May 18, 2021 looked into a shift in public safety, revenues recovering, and a controversial increase in the budget for the police department.
The discussions in regard to the police included the elevation of Acting Chief Manuel Cid to Chief. He was confirmed to the position in closed session by a vote of four to one, Vice Mayor Daniel Lee being the sole vote against. Cid’s appointment to the position is conditional, and the council will continue the process through to permanent appointment.
While reimagining public safety has been a constant topic of discussion at council meetings, the new budget offered a paradox. The city has designated $1.5 million for the creation of the Mobil Crisis Intervention and Response Program, and the police projected expenditures of $44 million; an increase of 6% over the previous year. This is a beginning to shifting some community needs away from uniformed officers, something that many in the community have requested, but also gives more funding to a departmental budget already taking up more than 30% of the General Fund.
The overall budget projections were positive, with Chief Financial Officer Oynx Jones reporting that sales tax held stronger than anticipated at $37 million, business taxes were good and anticipated to improve for an estimated total of $18 million for the coming year.
The city also received more than $7 million from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan’s aid to municipal governments
Revenues are projected to increase by more than 20% in the coming year.