The Tucson City Council voted Tuesday to adopt a $1.7 billion budget for fiscal year 2021, allocating more than $166 million to the Tucson Police Department.
As people across the country continue to speak out against police brutality, Tucson residents have expressed concern over the amount of funding directed toward the Police Department. After the recent in-custody deaths of Carlos Adrian Ingram Lopez and Damien Alvarado, some are calling for the defunding of the Police Department, arguing the money could instead be used for improving community resources, mental-health care and social work.
Ultimately, however, the council voted 6-1 to adopt the final budget and allocate nearly a third of the city’s general fund to the Police Department this fiscal year, which began July 1.
“I believe it’s a good thing for our community to be engaged with our budget, and based on that input and feedback, we have instituted in this year’s budget steps that move in the direction that we all want to see in terms of equity and investment in communities of color and low-income communities in our city,” said Mayor Regina Romero.
Romero said the funding for the Police Department does not take away from the council’s commitment to public resources and community safety. She pointed specifically to the council’s implementation of a community safety pilot program, in which leaders will look at the city’s safety resources and seek community feedback for future improvements.
The 2021 budget includes funding for the program, which will allow the city to hire eight social workers, a “housing first” director and allocate $500,000 for a racial equity assessment.
“The needs of our community are complex and the solutions are not simple,” Romero said. “I will continue fighting for funding for the issues that every single person has talked about today.”
Council member Lane Santa Cruz was the only no vote on the budget adoption, saying the council failed to listen to the needs of the community.
“Locally, in this present moment, it is evident by the in-custody death of Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez and Damien Alvarado that we are still expecting too much of police officers in addressing medical and societal ills,” Santa Cruz said. “I am not comfortable voting on the final adopted budget. The fiscal year 2021 budget as presented does not take into account the input that we have received from the public, who is demanding that we reduce the scale of policing and we invest in community-identified solutions for public safety and prosperity.”
In addition to public-safety funding, the 2021 budget also includes over $548 million for community enrichment and development, $367 million for public utilities and $201 million for support services. Some of the departments included in these categories are Transportation and Mobility, Housing and Community Development and Environmental Services.
The city’s primary property tax rate also increased by $0.0328 from $0.4555 to $0.4883. This proposed rate causes the city of Tucson’s total primary property taxes on a home with an actual value of $100,000 to increase by $0.33 from $45.55 to $48.83.
Contact reporter Jasmine Demers at email@example.com
On Twitter: @JasmineADemers
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