The Tucson City Council tentatively passed their 2021 fiscal year budget on Tuesday, June 30, during their livestream meeting following a public hearing with over 40 calls that ranged from requesting better social services to completely defunding the Tucson Police Department.
The city council’s budget for this next year is over $1.7 billion, which tentatively passed with a 6-1 vote. The budget allocates over $165 million to the Tucson Police Department. The budget was passed after multiple public hearings, including one directly before its passing, where Tucson residents called in to give their thoughts on the budget.
Many called in to the public hearing asking for the police to be defunded and their funds to be reallocated to other essential areas like social services, education or transportation.
“Police presence didn’t make Carlos Ingram-Lopez more safe, it ended his life," one Tucson resident said. "I firmly believe that what Tucson needs to feel safe and secure in their own community is properly funded services. ... So many residents of Tucson are already fully aware of what they need, what their city needs and so I call on you to take swift, concrete action to defund the police department."
Some callers also called in in defense of the police department, asking that it not be defunded and citing the importance of police officers in their communities.
“I don’t want our city to take the easy way out to satisfy a mob, our city needs to do the right thing to bring about change … though I speak alone, I represent many working mothers and fathers who asked me to speak on their behalf, working mothers and fathers with barely enough to eat, let alone attend this meeting," said resident Grace Vasquez. "We do not desire a Ferguson effect on our hometown, we desire reform through intelligent, sensible legislation. We support our police, and we support progress.”
The many calls came after Tucson made national news when Carlos Ingram-Lopez, a man arrested for a domestic disturbance with his family, died in police custody on April 21. The outrage from this caused TPD Chief Chris Magnus to offer his resignation on June 24, to which the city manager rejected his offer the following day.
The public hearing will be continued at the July 7 meeting where Tucson residents can phone in to the teleconference to voice their concerns, while current concerns and comments can be submitted to the city clerk via email@example.com.
The July 7 meeting will be livestreamed as well and the upcoming agenda will be posted with details on how to call in. According to the City of Tucson’s website, the adoption of the budget will be finalized on July 21 following another public hearing.
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