Austin City Council approves budget, removes $150M from police department

Southwest

Austin Police Department cadets at their graduation on July 8, 2016. (KXAN/Alicia Inns)

AUSTIN, Texas (NewsNation) — The Austin City Council has moved to reallocate $150 million away from their police department.

Unanimously approved by members Thursday, the city’s amended 2020-21 budget sets up a framework for rolling out changes to restructure policing in the state capital.

The newly approved budget will move around $150 million from the Austin Police Department (APD) into other areas of public health and safety over the course of the next year, reported NewsNation affiliate KXAN. The new fiscal year starts on October 1.

While the changes to the proposed budget happened quickly over the past few days, city spokespeople confirm that the approved budget achieves the same benchmarks of removing dollars and duties from Austin police that council members highlighted in their recent plan.

The budget includes $20 million which will be immediately reallocated from APD, in areas such as cadet funding and overtime. The plan is to reinvest the money in other areas of public health and safety, such as permanent supportive housing, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services (ATCEMS) COVID-19 response and workforce development.

The budget tasks city staff with moving a number of functions previously held under APD (totaling to around $80 million) such as Forensics Services and the 9-1-1 call center into other city departments over the next year. These programs would not be cut but transitioned to other departments other than APD.

The budget also tasks city staff with diverting almost $50 million from the Austin police budget to a “Reimagine Safety Fund” over the course of the next year. That fund would then be used to support “alternative forms of public safety and community support.”

In total, if city staff is able to meet the timeline laid out in the budget, the city will transition $150 million out of the APD budget over the course of the next year. City staff have emphasized that the “reimagining of public safety” going on in Austin will require additional time and effort this year to complete.

The budget adoption also comes at a time when both the Council and city staff have promised transformative changes to the way Austin handles public safety.

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