In a nine-hour meeting Tuesday, the City Council adopted a budget for Fiscal Year 2021 after hearing many public comments. The Council went on to adopt a resolution regarding policing and reject a resolution to request an eviction moratorium.
A group of protesters first gathered at City Hall then moved to a spot in front of the police station as they listed to the virtual meeting over loudspeakers.
Ward 7 Councilwoman Nikki Nice participated in the meeting from a laptop in the same spot.
How the sausage gets madeGovernment according to columnist Marty Peercy
In spite of being absent for the 6-1 adoption of the OKCPD budget, Ward 2 Councilman James Cooper brought a resolution before the council to implement a study to inform six initiatives to enhance policing under the name of “community policing.”
The six initiatives include:
- increasing the number of officers who receive Crisis Intervention Training,
- Officer Access to Mental Health Services,
- Alternative Response to Mental Health Calls,
- Focus on Youth Outreach,
- Expansion of Homeless Outreach Initiatives, and
- Creation of a Neighborhood Safety/Violence Interruption Program.
Referring to the fifth initiative, Ward 6 Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon* asked to change language referring to the expansion of the Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team, claiming that the solution isn’t more policing, but more services.
Before voting on the initiative, Ward 8 Councilman Mark Stonecipher asked the Chief of Police, Wade Gourley, to weigh in on the resolution. Gourley said that the resolution was fine. Cooper met with Gourley last week to fine tune the initiatives in the Resolution, according to Cooper.
The resolution passed unanimously.
During a hearing on the proposed FY21 Police budget, the Council heard from more than forty people who called in to express opinions.
Of those callers 25 asked for the reallocation of some police budget money.
Five callers expressed support for the police and asked to not reduce funding for the department. Five callers were agitators who called in and used foul language and offensive slurs.
After hours of public comment, the Council voted on the allocation of the proposed budget for the police department.
Cooper and Ward 7 Councilwoman Nikki Nice declared themselves absent for the vote, due to the resolution that was to come up later. Hamon alone voted “nay” on the 6-1 adoption of the public safety tax budget.
The annual budget for FY21 was then adopted with a vote of 6-3, Cooper, Hamon, and Nice voting against its adoption.
Cooper, Hamon, and Nice co-sponsored a resolution asking Governor Stitt to declare a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through July, as evictions are expected to spike after the summer.
Stonecipher and Greenwell opposed the resolution on the merit of not liking resolutions and the fact that the Governor doesn’t have the statutory authority to declare such a moratorium, according to Stonecipher.
Ward 4 Councilman Todd Stone said that while his heart is with those suffering, he could not support the resolution.
The Resolution failed 5-4, with Mayor David Holt joining Cooper, Hamon, and Nice in voting in favor.
Assistant City Managers Kenny Tsoodle and Aubrey McDermid brought a presentation to the Council for allocation of $59.3 million in CARES Act money.
The money will be split with a $28,750,000 allocation for testing and tracing, including the purchase of an analyzing machine for testing to be added to those already in operation in the County.
The rest of the allocation, over $26 million, will be for community support, including some assistance for rent and mortgage payments to slow the rate of evictions and foreclosures in coming weeks.
The Council meets again on July 7 at 8:30am.
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*Councilwoman Hamon is married to reporter Marty Peercy.