Minneapolis’ elected officials are delaying their budget overhaul, saying they lost time to work on it while responding to the riots that followed George Floyd’s death.
Before Floyd died, after being pinned by his neck by a Minneapolis police officer’s knee, the city’s elected officials were looking to trim their roughly $1.6 billion budget to account for revenue that plunged amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Jacob Frey had been expected to provide a proposal for an updated budget to the council on Friday.
Council members are now eyeing the possibility of passing smaller changes to the budget in June but delaying the majority of the work until July.
As they move forward, many will be watching to see what changes the mayor and council propose for the city’s police department.
Some council members have promised to “begin the process of ending” the police department, though they have not provided a single, unified vision of what that means.
Possible cuts to force
While a clause in the city charter prohibits them from immediately eliminating the police department — and Frey opposes the idea — some council members could try to reduce the force to its minimum required levels.
The charter requires the council to “fund a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident.” Based on the latest census data, that would likely equal roughly 730 employees.
The Minneapolis Police Department currently has a budget of $193.3 million, according to the city’s finance department. It employed 892 sworn officers and 175 non-sworn employees as of June 1, according to spokesman John Elder.
The City Council could try to push for changes in this latest budget revision or it could decide to address those in the process of budgeting for 2021.
Hours before Floyd died, city staff held a budget retreat to try to cut $165 million from the budget. The city lost money in tax revenue, utility bills and parking fees when businesses closed to encourage social distancing amid the pandemic.
“By Tuesday morning, our whole world had changed,” said Council Member Linea Palmisano, who chairs the budget committee.
In the days that followed, city officials focused on responding to riots, Palmisano said, and budget discussions resumed in detail late last week.
Cost of riot damages
The city is still tallying the cost of riot damages. As of Friday, the number was estimated between $100 million and $150 million and expected to grow. City officials have said they intend to apply for aid, but it’s too early to tell whether they will get it.
The city is also waiting to see how the state will allocate the $667 million it received in federal CARES Act funding to help cover the widespread costs of responding to the coronavirus pandemic.