SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Salt Lake City Council held its budget vote Tuesday night, in which they allocated funds for everything from libraries to public works to the police force.
Some citizens have been calling for the council to cut $30 million from the police department’s budget, if not defund it entirely.
Council cuts budget, some say not enough
Those expectations were not met when the council voted unanimously to implement a modest cut to the department.
Specifically, they’re putting $2.8 million into a holding account, for now, which will reduce the police fund to a little over $81.5 million. For context, that’s a 3.3% decrease from Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s proposed budget, which was released last month.
Additionally, the city is moving $2.5 million for social workers out of the police budget, although those employees will still be housed in the police department.
In total, around $5.3 million is being shuffled out of the department’s funding.
Council chairman Chris Wharton admitted this is short from what some members of the community are asking for.
“This represents a unique moment in history to deconstruct the problems in our systems and fix them,” he explains. “It does not stop with the budget adoption tonight. We will build a better city.”
The council is also forming a City Commission on Racial Equity and Policing. Their goal is to provide input on the department’s future while those funds are on pause.
Mayor Mendenhall reacted to the news on Twitter, largely praising steps made by the council.
I appreciate the thoughtful and transparent budget process @slcCouncil has undertaken these past several weeks.
I’m optimistic that the City’s new Commission on Racial Equity in Policing will help guide us closer to where we need to be as a city. https://t.co/jL0ghS4rEd
— SLC Mayor Erin Mendenhall (@slcmayor) June 17, 2020
The city’s new fiscal year begins July 1.
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