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Austin unanimously passes $4.1B budget with 5 percent cut to police—and promises for more
Charlie L. Harper III/Austonia.com

Austin City Hall

This story will be updated throughout the day.

The Austin City Council unanimously approved a $4.1B budget on Thursday that includes up to $150 million in cuts to police budgets over the coming year, although only $20 million will be cut immediately, city officials said.


The full budget will be posted at this link within a few weeks, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said on social media.

Adler posted a thread listing various issues and agencies addressed in this year's budget.




The $150 million out of the police department accounts for about a third of the police budget in typical years and includes shifting some departments responsibilities—and their attendant costs—to other departments of the city.

It's the first time in at least six years that the council has not increased the police budget, which has grown by 50% since 2013, KUT reports. About $3.5 million will go emergency medical services for COVID-19 response and another $6.5 million to housing assistance for people living on the street, the report says.

The council set a March deadline for City Manager Spencer Cronk to return with more detailed proposals to implement the new budget.

"We did it!!" Austin City Council Greg Casar, a staunch supporter of cutting police funding after protests earlier this summer, tweeted in the moments after the vote.

Law enforcement advocates responded with cautious optimism that while they would have preferred no cuts to police staffing—which make up the majority of the cuts effective immediately—they agree with the shifting of some duties out of the agency and see room for engagement on cuts over the longer term.

"The Greater Austin Crime Commission supports the additional funding and public safety investments in the fiscal year 2021 city budget, including community health paramedics, family violence, mental health response and violence prevention," the commission said in a statement. "The Crime Commission is reassured that the community will have input in the process to evaluate police operations and reforms in the months ahead. The budget rider amendment that makes clear police cadet classes may continue next year is encouraging, and we look forward to the timely completion of the work to improve training."

"We remain concerned about the reductions in police positions when crime is increasing and response times are slower."

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