In South San Francisco, where officials are forecasting a shortfall of $ 7 million for the coming fiscal year, calls from the community to devalue the police department loomed.
Residents pleaded with the South San Francisco City Council during a budget study on Tuesday June 9th to divert money from the police department to other community improvement programs.
The discussion came after a rally on Black Lives Matter last week that was attended by hundreds of locals participating in a youth-led movement advocating police reform after the murder of George Floyd.
Many of these voices echoed through the chambers of the city services building on Tuesday as youth and lawyers continued to put pressure on local officials just meters from where the peaceful protest ended.
“I urge our city council to commit to reducing police budgets and to programs that directly serve our community – such as much-needed COVID-19 relief, affordable housing, educational fortification and community programs especially for our children and our youth,” said Eli Jimenez.
Jakarta resident Kumasi-Nakuru shared a similar perspective.
“We are asking the city council to reassess the 2020-2021 operating budget proposal and reallocate funds to urban resources that better serve the black and brown communities in South City,” he said.
Similar discussions are taking place across the country as advocates of reform urge local officials to spend less on law enforcement and budget more on community programs, youth services and more improvement initiatives.
In total, the speakers filled the four-hour meeting, worth nearly 45 minutes, urging officials to revise the city’s spending plan for the coming fiscal year. No final decision was made at the meeting and the subject will return for further consideration later this month.
In response, officials suggested drawing $ 85,000 from the police department designated for programming in the community and transferring it to the city administrator’s office.
The move should not be interpreted as an indictment against the police department, said council members, who believed the money could have a greater impact if it were distributed more widely.
Officials also expressed an interest in donating an additional $ 200,000 to the city’s innovation fund in the hope that the money could be used for programming in the parks and recreation department.
To accommodate the spending changes in a budget deficit due to the COVID-19 shutdown, councilors were able to pull $ 4.8 million out of the $ 24.4 million in the general fund reserve. In total, South San Francisco had reserves of $ 52.3 million, with an additional $ 22.4 million retained for capital improvements and $ 5.5 million for retirement benefits.
About $ 2.5 million of those reserves will be combined with about $ 4.5 million in excess revenue from the previous fiscal year to fill the funding gap projected for the 2020-21 budget, according to Finance Director Janet Salisbury’s discussion.
For his part, Vice Mayor Mark Addiego said he felt that spending from the city’s sizeable reserve fund was warranted during difficult economic times.
“The money is there to be used in times like these,” he said.
Salisbury forecast that the city will generate revenue of around $ 105 million this year and spend around $ 112 million. Each department has been asked to propose some service reductions, but no full-time employees are suggested for the sake of losing jobs. Some vacancies will not be filled.
According to Salisbury, which predicts South San Francisco will receive about $ 8 million, or $ 4.7 million less than last year, the largest drop in hotel income is expected to be in hotel tax revenue. She expected sales tax to be around $ 17 million or $ 1.7 million less than last year for the coming year. Projected total revenue of $ 105 million is $ 8.3 million less than last year.
As the spending plan for the coming year is refined, councilors encouraged those who attended the budget meeting to continue to delve into the hope of building a more inclusive process.
“Let’s have a frank conversation,” said councilor Mark Nagales.