GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department budget will shrink by thousands of dollars and the city’s Office of Oversight and Public Accountability’s will grow from just under $406,000 to $2.3 million under Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington’s proposed 2023 budget.
If approved, the proposed $597 million spending plan would go into effect July 1.
“The FY2023 Preliminary Fiscal Plan represents a continuation of fiscally sustainable essential services with an acknowledgement that recent events require leaders to address urgent questions,” Washington said in a news release sent out prior to a budget presentation to city commissioners Tuesday morning. “Those include improving public safety, accelerating police reform, increasing investment in oversight, ensuring equitable community engagement and supporting the community’s equitable recovery and growth.”
Those urgent questions came as result of the April 4 shooting of Patrick Lyoya by a Grand Rapids police officer.
Grand Rapids city officials initially told News 8 the police budget would decline by $130,000 but later said it was only $12,000.
The cut to the GRPD budget will decrease the department’s portion of the general fund from 38.6% to 34.1%. Under a city charter amendment, at least 32% of the general fund must go the police department.
Most, if not all, of the changes to the GRPD budget will be offset by a number of line items in the police budget being shifted to other city agencies. For example, the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability will absorb about $750,000 when it takes over the police department body camera program.
No police cuts, including a reduction in officers, are expected.
“I’ve been here 54 days and I’m not looking at it (the budget) from what it was last year or what it was two years ago,” new GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom, who came from Chicago and only recently finished his certification to serve as a police officer in Michigan, told News 8 Tuesday morning. “I’m looking for a fresh look: Does it have what we need? And I think it has what we need.”
In the news release, Washington outlined how the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability will spend the additional funds:
- Hire an additional full-time staff person.
- Lead the coordination of additional police training for officers that is community informed and community engaged.
- Address topics such as cultural competency and deescalation that officers co-experience with community members.
- Provide funding for OPA to more effectively engage the immigrant and refugee community.
- Transfer the oversight of the body-worn camera contract procurement and enforcement from Police to OPA.
Part of GRPD’s 2023 budget will expand efforts to increase nonpolice responses to certain call for service: $700,000 has been set aside to fund a mobile crisis intervention team using mental health professionals to respond — sometimes with a police officer and sometimes on their own — to calls involving mental health issues. The city is working with Network180 to develop the program, which will be an extension of the Homeless Outreach Team. HOT partners mental health professional with GRPD and GRFD crews to calls involving the homeless population.
Some $36 million is pledged to continue equity investments in all three city wards and $6 million has been set aside to help fund affordable housing efforts. That number is expected to increase with the sale of the city-owned property at 201 Market Ave. SW.
“Over the past two years and these last few critical weeks, our employees have remained steadfast in their commitment to delivering on our mission of elevating the quality of life through excellent City services,” Washington said in the earlier news release.
“Our dedicated workforce stands ready to usher in a new era of progress that will drive Grand Rapids toward our vision of being an equitable, welcoming, innovative and collaborative city with a robust economy, safe and healthy community, and the opportunity for a high quality of life for all,” Washington continued. “We are committed to continuous improvement and innovation across our entire organization.”
Property owners are expected to see a 2% reduction in property taxes in fiscal year 2023, with income tax receipts expected to increase 4%.
Tuesday’s unveiling of the 2023 budget proposal will be followed by a series of meetings, including a public hearing on the spending plan scheduled for May 17. The budget reviews and public hearing will be open to the public and carried on the city’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and cable channel 26.
City commissioners are set to vote on the budget May 24.