OKC City Council approves $ 1.6 billion budget with increases for police – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

0



Oklahoma City (Free Press) – Oklahoma City City Council voted directly 7-2 on the proposed $ 1.6 billion budget for fiscal years 2021-2022 (fiscal 22) beginning July 1.

This happened after some people protested against the revealed value in the proportion of the proposed budget allocated to items such as police budgets.

The council also approved a large, federally backed loan to the First National Project downtown and amended the service contract between Oklahoma City Blue and the Oklahoma City Thunder professional basketball team.

Government by columnist Marty Piercy

budget

In the last round of this year’s budget deliberation at city hall, city council was invited to adopt the 2010 budget.

Budget Manager Doug Dowler made a brief presentation on the proposed budget of $ 1,648,600,000. Mayor Holt kindly revealed to us in the press room during the meeting that it could be $ 1.6 billion, but spending is expected to be $ 1 billion.

Downer explained that 63% of general revenue spending in the total budget falls under “public safety”.

More than a dozen armed police officers in uniform occupy most of the public seats during the meeting, as if to emphasize this percentage, and at first glance to show their armed forces, and the final police. I did not leave until the budget item was adopted.

John George Police Union President and Vice President Marc Nelson sat in the front row throughout the meeting.

Two board members explained why they did not support the budget.

Awareness has been criticized

District 6 Assembly Member JoBeth Hamon * spoke about Oklahoma City and the cultural moments the country is currently facing. According to Hamon, since the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin last year, our community has had the opportunity to rethink the concept of public safety. If it is a document, he said, the budget indicates that Oklahoma City has not been able to respond at this time.

Oklahoma City Police Headquarters, 700 Couch Drive. (Brett Dickerson / Okla City Free Press)

Hamon gave two examples of local nonprofits that made a difference in the community without city funding.

Under the aegis of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health (Hamon’s employer) and funded by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (ODMHSAS), ION has formed an outreach team . The organization has strived to raise resources that can accommodate over 100 people over a long period of time with few vouchers and a long waiting list, with three staff members.

The organization’s mental health program serves people with severe mental illness in Oklahoma City. Hamon said he had had great results. By providing comprehensive services and resources, we reduced the number of repeat visits to the Oklahoma City Crisis Management Center by 90%. Not only did they do it without city funding, but they also saved the city considerable money while doing it.

Hamon said the $ 300,000 designated as an indecisive “alternative mental health measure” falls short of meeting the needs of our community.

“While spending over a million dollars to enforce the ordinance that criminalizes poverty,” Hamon said of a highly unpopular begging ordinance passed in 2016. Ultimately, taxpayers in the ‘OKC can be expensive.

“The safest community is not the one with the most police, but the one with the most resources,” Hamon said. “I’m really sorry the city didn’t handle this. “

Control of funding criticized

District 7 representative Nikki Nice also expressed a number of concerns regarding the budget.

In a private conversation, according to Nice, over the past few months she has sought to oversee and be responsible for the city-funded “Progress OKC” program.

In particular, Nice expressed its dissatisfaction with its demand not to include the city-funded “Keiba” program in the city budget.

“We haven’t watched Progress OKC yet,” she argued against City Manager Craig Freeman’s cheeky reaction.

Nice said later: She mentioned that she has a budget for the reconstruction of the Human Rights Commission. According to Nice, the commission was a few years ago, fearing that Oklahoma City’s LGBTQ community would grow bigger and bigger. It is said to have been dissolved.

“An OKC”

Nice goes on to say that Springlake’s division, the police station that controls his neighborhood, has had seven commanders since being elected in 2018.

She only learned of the change after calling the person she thought was the commander, telling him he was no longer there, and telling him who to contact instead. She has not been officially informed of this change.

“If you need an ‘OKC’ you have to create one. Nice summary. “We need to build better relationships. “

History of the race

James Cooper, a member of the Second Ward Coven, began speaking in a 10-minute clip from the Neighborhood Alliance documentary. In the video, Dr. Bob Blackburn of the Oklahoma Historical Society recently explained the role of race relations in building the city’s neighborhood.

After an inspiring history lesson, Cooper spoke about the importance of considering our history and choosing where to go next.

Cooper then said he would support the budget. His reason seemed to rest mainly on the 1.3 million dollars allocated to the police. This includes $ 300,000 allocated for unknown alternative mental health measures.

None of the other board members mentioned budget support.

Despite these concerns and the overwhelming majority of comments from the general public during last year’s budget hearings, including Tuesday’s board meeting, the budget passed 7-2, with only Hamon and Nice going. are opposed to it. I voted.

National premiere

Remodeling and Restoration Construction of the former First National Bank building at 120 North Robinson Avenue, downtown, has been underway for many years. The finished work is called “Le National”. The project is quite advanced, but there is still a lot to do.

The Board of Directors received a presentation on the history of the project and its progress to date.

Magnificent building rejuvenation includes 600 parking units, more than 100 units of hotels and housing. Accommodation is subject to an ad valorem tax and hotels to a consumption tax.

Developer Gary Brooks told the council the project will create more than 200 jobs.

Bank Hall-First National Center-OKC
Bank Hall-First National Center, construction just started in 2017 (File, BRETT DICKERSON / Okla City Free Press)

Unlike most hotels, which usually have bars and restaurants, the First National project has seven bars and restaurants and two ballrooms that can accommodate around 400 people. This creates more jobs than a typical hotel of the same size.

The project is eligible for a low interest rate loan of $ 11 million from the city under the federal Section 108 loan program.

This loan program is guaranteed by the HUD, allowing the city to provide low interest “downstream” loans to housing development as the community grows.

However, the project should ultimately generate 220 jobs. Otherwise, the developer will eventually have to refund some of the money.

Nice and Hamon asked how this project would help low and middle income people.

Brooks explained that since the start of the project, he has focused on hiring people through employment programs such as Oklahoma City’s addiction recovery program, First Steps.

Brooks said he was funding Rose State University‘s asbestos reduction program and hiring graduates to work on the project.

Additionally, Brooks is working with the Homeless Alliance and its program, the Curveside Chronicle, to open up employment opportunities.

The board unanimously approved the loan.

basketball

The same week that Oklahoma City residents learned that the city was paying parking fees for season ticket holders for Thunder games, an amendment and addendum to the Center Arena licensing agreement -City of Oklahoma City were reached by council on Tuesday. Submit to.

City officials explained that the Oklahoma City Blue Educational League basketball team had to be relocated to another facility as part of the rental of what was previously known as the Cox Convention Center to the Prairie Winds Studios. The evacuation of the team was expected to cost more than initially, but was reduced to $ 62,900 per negotiation. Half of this cost will be reimbursed by the new tenant of the original establishment.

The second part of the contract change reflects the absence of some ticket holders from the previous season and the previous season, during which the game was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Refunds are given to the city by the Professional Basketball Club, LLC for each game, but if no fans had tickets in the arena, they should have been reduced considerably.

For a typical game with a booth full of fans buying booths and memorabilia, refunds often reach over $ 40,000. They were traded up to $ 2,100 per game.

The amendment is approved unanimously.

The city council will meet at 8:30 a.m. on June 22.


* Note: JoBeth Hamon, 6th Ward Council member, is married to Marty Peercy.


Become a supporter and maintain journalism

Oklahoma City Free Press is dedicated to providing high quality journalism that positively impacts the community. Click this link to support our mission.


Last updated: June 8, 2021, 5:40 p.m. Brett Dickerson-Editor

OKC City Council approves $ 1.6 billion budget with increases for police Source link OKC City Council approves $ 1.6 billion budget with increases for police



Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.