One + weeks left of budget discussions. I am told the formal meeting tonight was the second-longest one in memory.
I participated in our city council meetings today with a “Black Lives Matter” sign behind me. I did so not because I don’t support our police force, but because I believe that our government must stand for those who do not have a strong voice.
Our city should not intentionally or unintentionally continue institutional racism or classism or sexism. It is difficult to hear residents talk about feeling dismissed when they have reported a sexual assault. It is hard to hear people of color share feeling targeted by police. But we must listen. We can and must get better.
I have seen the willingness of police leadership (in this city) to listen and improve. There is much to do to improve. As my colleague Ana Valdemoros stated this evening, it is not about us and them. We must get better together.
As a city council member, I must seek to build a better city for everyone, not just through our police department, but through housing, transportation access to parks and open space, and the best quality of life for everyone. I appreciated the comments tonight from many people about how we must make the city budget reflect our best values. I agree. And it is always easier said than done. But it must be pursued.
As always, I am happy to discuss these issues with anyone (even via phone). Just please have some patience as the volume of emails and calls have been high recently.
And on a side note, the lack of educational funding and the clear inequality amongst schools in the city and valley is deeply discouraging. And completely outside the city budget. I strongly encourage like-minded Westsiders to look at running for the school board and advocating for increased state funding at the state legislature.
Fire Department Budget
Another proposed budget that is essentially flat. In order to achieve this, the department has proposed a 6 month hiring freeze. This is the same with every department. It also means that there is little new to discuss with this budget. There is the intention to revisit this budget in 6 months after we have seen the actual revenue numbers and the status of the economy.
Unresolved Budget Issues
We have several items in the budget that we have yet to resolve regarding both revenue and potential expenditures. One item that is of particular interest is the question of what to do with some excess revenue from the North Temple viaduct RDA project. This is RDA revenue, but the viaduct debt was partially paid for by general fund dollars over the past few years, before the latest housing developments brought in increased tax revenue. One idea is to reimburse the general fund for those previous years funding. However, James Rogers proposed (and I fully support) allocating those funds to assist in North Temple redevelopment and mitigating the intense problems between 700-1000 West on North Temple. There are other funds we have previously allocated for a catalytic project there. Combining these funds will give us a more realistic chance to make a difference there. We will discuss more Thursday and Next Tuesday.
Learn more about the proposed City budget here.