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Grand Rapids city manager outlines timeline for considering public safety budget changes

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Posted at 8:07 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 20:08:32-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington announced Thursday a timeline for considering changes to the city's budget, including for the police department.

The Grand Rapids Police Department will present a draft of its strategic plan Aug. 11 during a City Commission meeting and will provide an update Sept. 29 based on commission and community feedback.

Despite calls from many community members to decrease the department’s budget and reinvest it in social services, officials are concerned about further reductions in the budget.

Rather than making major changes in the middle of the year, Washington wants to evaluate the budget mid-year.

“I used a very deliberative budget process for the two previous budgets and tough choices were made to ensure we were investing strategically to achieve our desired outcomes,” Washington said. “This situation requires the same deliberative approach.”

Washington and Grand Rapids Police Chief previously outlined a plan that would reduce the police department’s budget by $403,000 and would reinvest that money in community-based efforts, including oversight, communications and engagement. The City Commission approved that budget amendment July 7.

Beyond that, the city’s overall budget for the fiscal year was reduced by $22 million because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and that included $1.1 million in additional cuts to the police department.

That equates to 63% of the department’s overtime budget, or about 15 officers. Any more budget cuts would likely lead to layoffs, Washington said.

Here’s what the rest of the timeline looks like:

November: City staff will present an analysis of the City’s FY2020 budget versus actual expenditures, FY2021 mid-year adjustments and a FY2022 budget forecast. The City Commission will discuss a FY2021 reprioritization strategy and FY2022 prioritization.
December 15: Washington will propose any mid-year budget amendments as needed.
February 2021: City staff will provide a FY2021 mid-year performance management update.
April 2021: Washington will propose the City’s FY2022 preliminary fiscal plan.
May 2021: The City Commission will vote on the FY2022 fiscal plan.