The City Council passed the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget of $602. 4 million on Tuesday, June 16 by a unanimous vote.
The budget has no property tax or water rate increase.
The only discussion by the City Council on the budget was about the Police Department budget, which included a lot of advice on how to run the Police Department.
City Manager David Parrish began the discussion by noting that the 2 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for all city employees was in the budget, as was the $2 million for the school resource officer (SRO) program, which caused some consternation for councilmembers.
However, Parrish explained that the vote by the council was not to do away with the program, but to stop paying for it. He said that currently the program cost the city about $2 million and the city was reimbursed by Guilford County for the SRO program with a little over $1 million. Parrish said that when they took a closer look at the SRO program, they realized that it cost the city much more than $500,000. The actual figure is about $887,000 according to City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy.
Parrish said that the city staff would be meeting with county staff with the direction from the council that Guilford County should reimburse Greensboro for the full cost of having police officers in all the high schools and middle schools in the city.
Councilmember Michelle Kennedy said that she would like to see a number of reforms to the Police Department, including requiring police officers to live in the city and racial equity training.
District 1 Councilmember Sharon Hightower said that people in her district in East Greensboro wanted fewer police.
District 2 Councilmember Goldie Wells said, “Over my way they are asking for more police. They want more police near them.”
Wells said, “I think it is ludicrous to say that we would just take money away from the Police Department.”
Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said that cutting the Police Department meant cutting personnel and that meant cutting programs including many of the community outreach programs.
She said, “What I’m hearing is defund the police and put that money other areas.”
Councilmember Yvonne Johnson said, “I don’t think anybody that is sane wants to live somewhere that is not protected, but I do think that we can do better.”
Kennedy made a motion that the $887,000 that was saved by not subsidizing the SRO program be allocated with 50 percent going to affordable housing and 50 percent going to the general fund to reduce the reliance on the fund balance.
The motion passed unanimously.