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Tonight are 2021 budget and salary ordinance votes. Context: 6 months ago in April, budget advance, hearing detailed priorities, suggestions comments from each of the 9 council members, that helped guide the budget development. 3 months ago in July, we shared Recover Forward ideas, and proposals, for reactions, questions, feedback. (And phase 1 adopted in July and August). 2 months ago in August our administration presented our detailed budget proposal for 2021 over four nights. Many meetings and discussions since, w council and public, etc. And then 2 weeks ago, final formal presentations of the budget ordinances. Thank you again to the team of administration officials. Mick, caroline, jeff, cabinet. Tonight, after this extensive and detailed six months process, you gather for a final vote.

 

Brief Summary from me tonight. All this input, led to this Unprecedented budget, for unprecedented times. Dealing with four enormous challenges, that council and administration both want to address for our community: economic collapse, climate emergency, racial and economic injustice, and of course the health pandemic. This overall budget deals with all of these issues, together, and intentionally, and consistent with goals the council has articulated and building on our momentum.

 

This budget keeps basic services going, and supports and values the 850 people who deliver all the services for the city. While tightening our belt in light of fiscal challenges. Also being transparent in all we do.  

 

These times have called for special investments to Recover Forward…investing in jobs and economic recovery for our people. Investing in climate responses, including energy efficiency, local agriculture, and non-auto infrastructure. Greater economic and racial opportunity and justice, with social safety net expansion, and more affordable housing, and continued innovation and evolution of our public safety departments. 

 

This budget reflects the momentum of investing in our basic infrastructure. You may recall that in the first three years of my administration we doubled the pace of basic infrastructure investments -- public works, parks, BT, CBU, public safety -- doubling in 2016 to ‘18 from the previous three years, from $20 million to $40 million. That doubling has helped us build new or repair 29 miles of sidewalks, trails, and sidepaths, with more to come. It has meant our parks department, beyond opening the $34 million biggest new park at Switchyard, also is investing nearly $20 million more in GO and Bicentennial bond proceeds, for even more new trail and path miles. And we also invested $13 million in solar, expanding production by 5 MegaWatts. And $4 million with CBU’s new program for green infrastructure. Increasing the public tree population by 50% in the past decade. As well as nearly 1,000 affordable housing units.

 

Lots of good momentum, but hard times have hit us now. Countercyclical government is needed to help us Rec Forward. And tighten the belt. And manage finances carefully. 

 

Extensive feedback and support from the council through the years and through the six months of budget engagement together has helped us focus on maintaining our forward momentum, even during challenging times, and has resulted in these 2021 budget and salary ordinances. 

 

Even after extensive engagement and discussion on many, many items, some issues of disagreement remain, primarily about two components of this $166 million budget: one concerns the proposed new Transportation Demand Management position, and a second is the police budget and some of the planned reforms. Touch on both.

 

TDM, again discuss. Shared goals for both this position and program - reducing single-person and overall auto usage, especially downtown, and collaborating outside the government to implement effective strategies. Some disagreement about where to house the new position within City Hall. As I’ve said before, reasonable people may have different views of optimal placement. I hope we can agree the focus should be on results, and this administration is absolutely committed to be held accountable for results, and for transparent reporting. And continued collaboration. I believe we share overall support for the TDM position and program, which depends upon a positive vote for the budget to be able to hire a person and implement the program at all. 

 

Police. I and community deeply appreciate the people of BPD who serve us every day, our officers and all employees, amid extraordinary times of attention and energy about policing in America, and sensitivity to the history of policing in America. Our community and our department share a commitment to continued improvements. Building on: DROs, comm policing, body cameras, social workers, NRSs, STRIDE Center, training, open data initiative, 21st Century policing review etc etc. Members of this council, like members of this community, have varying views on the best paths forward. As a reminder of the basic Plan for 2021: fully fund 100 sworn officer positions for 2021, and add 5 new positions, of social workers and neighborhood resources specialists and public data analyst. 

 

As previously mentioned, I also will be supporting the creation of a community-based task force to consider the future of policing in our community. To consider wider and deeper questions, including for example the best alignment of resources and personnel in the public safety world, over the coming months. We will continue to work closely with the council and the community in standing up this process very shortly. 

 

And working with BPD and members of the council, also are identifying some steps to encourage and support more officers being able to live in the city, to be closer to our community, through a housing allowance program for current or new officers who choose to live in the city. And we will encourage retention of current officers and recruitment of high-quality new officers, through a take-home car program for all officers living in the city, and a pilot take-home car program for some officers living in the county, outside city limits, with special responsibilities, for whom immediate access to patrol cars would be helpful to our community. Both the housing allowance and take home car programs will be accomplished within the 2021 budget as presented to you. 

 

I’ll close where I began, and thank the council and the public for six months of engagement to put together this most important annual document of the budget. These are extraordinary times, and they demand extraordinary focus to help us all recover from, and confront, major challenges to our community. Every one of us, no doubt, can point to something in this budget that we might like changed or different. But I believe it very well embodies our community’s values, in the face of these times, and is a prudent and effective investment for a better future. I appreciate your attention and collaboration, and strongly encourage your support.


 

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