City lists budget timeline amid calls for GRPD funding cut

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Rapids on Thursday laid out its budget process for the next fiscal year, saying that process would determine how much, if any, gets cut from the Grand Rapids Police Department.

GRPD will draft its new strategic plan Aug. 11 and present it to the city commission. After getting feedback, an updated version will be presented Sept. 29. Also Sept. 29, city staff will release their performance management update for the 2020 fiscal year.

In November, staff will lay out an analysis of how the 2020 budget compared to actual spending, mid-year adjustments for the 2021 fiscal year (which began July 1) and the budget forecast for the 2022 fiscal year.

On Dec. 15, City Manager Mark Washington will propose mid-year budget amendments.

In February, staff will give their mid-year performance management for the current fiscal year.

In April, Washington will propose the FY2020 budget. The commission will vote on that plan in May.

Amid calls for police reform, there was an eleventh-hour push earlier this year to cut some $9.4 million from GRPD’s FY2021 budget. That would have brought GRPD’s percentage of the general fund down to the minimum 32% allowed by city charter. But it ultimately fizzled when the city attorney said city commissioners couldn’t do it without the city manager on board.

Washington has been lukewarm about big cuts to GRPD, especially on short notice. He said in a Thursday release that such funding changes should be decided with a “deliberative approach” throughout the budgeting process.

“With respect to the police department, we are exploring how we can start innovative initiatives and investments in new initiatives such as the partnership with governmental behavioral mental/health organizations and a crime prevention strategy,” Washington’s statement said in part.

GRPD, like every city department, did see a funding decline for FY2021 because of revenue shortfalls linked to the coronavirus pandemic. It got $1.1 million less than the previous year, the city says, plus reallocated an additional $403,000 to the city’s new police watchdog, communications and community engagement, among other things.

The Grand Rapids police officers’ unions have warned against drastic funding cuts, arguing they would result in layoffs that would negatively affect neighborhoods with the most crime.

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