GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids city commissioners on Thursday approved the city’s $546 million spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.
The budget reckons with a $36 million decline in income tax revenue because of more people working remotely. But the city is getting $92 million from the federal American Rescue Plan to help fill the gap — $46 million this summer and another $46 million next year. In all, about $60 million in federal cash is expected to go to revenue replacement.
The budget sends millions to health and environment, parks and cemeteries, the water department and the replacement of lead water lines. It will pay to install more LED lighting. Some $21.7 million is going to streets and sidewalks. Another $6.8 million is going to affordable housing initiatives.
What the budget does not do is cut funding to the Grand Rapids Police Department. While GRPD is getting a smaller percentage of the general fund (about 36%), its dollar allocation is actually $665,000 more than last year. Police reform advocates want that budget slashed to 32%, the lowest percentage allowed under city charter.
“I know from all of the work that we do that we don’t always get everything we want in every budget,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss told commissioners at the Thursday morning special meeting at which the budget was approved. “This is a budget of compromise and prioritization. And we went through that process last October where we all identified all of our priorities and through a compromise and consensus, we identified what our top priorities were. And I do believe that this budget is very much aligned with those priorities that we set and moves us in the right direction. Maybe not as quickly as some of us would like to go, but we also know that process takes time and change takes time.”
About $2.15 million of the federal rescue dollars will go toward the master plan, a contract with a housing practice leader, funding for special events and, with the largest chunk of $1.5 million, homeless outreach staffing. Officials have yet to decide exactly how to spend another $10.2 million of the federal money, though they say it will be devoted to economy recovery and the needs of vulnerable populations. City Manager Mark Washington says the remaining about $19.31 million in federal dollars should be set aside for future years.
The 2022 fiscal year begins July 1.