Mayor Pro Tem Garza says she'll vote 'no' on next budget without 'significant' funds moved away from police
Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza on Thursday threatened to vote "no" on the city's annual budget next month if she doesn't see "significant" funds moved out of the Austin Police Department, as directed by the City Council last week.
"We all made some very clear statements about wanting change, and without that, I'm curious to know: Are we going to have six votes to pass the budget?" Garza said during a meeting of the Council Committee on Public Safety. "Unless there is a significant ... moving [of] funds, I can't see myself voting 'yes' on a budget."
Last week, in the wake of clashes between police and anti-brutality demonstrators, and after the testimony of hundreds of people calling for change at the police department, the City Council unanimously passed a series of resolutions calling for an overhaul of the APD's budget, practices and leadership.
Garza's remarks came in response to a suggestion by Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo that, while some parts of the initial budget proposal will reflect the council's wishes when it is presented on July 13, in order to create the sort of seismic changes the council and community are requesting, much more work needs to be done.
"We need to define what public safety needs to be for our community and then build a budget based on what those expectations are," Van Eenoo told the committee.
Advocates and some council members have called for at least $100 million to be removed from the police department's $440 million annual budget.
The new budget proposal will include cutting around 100 officer positions, including about 60 that would be anticipated in next year's budget, amounting to a savings of at least $6 million.
Van Eenoo said each new police officer position costs the city about $100,000 in training, salary, equipment and related expenses.
The city's fiscal year begins in October. Last year, the council approved a $4.2 billion budget, including $1.1 in general funds.
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