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City Budget Passes with Additional Cuts to RPD; Council Says Symbolic ‘No’ to RCSD

Patti Singer

Mayor Lovely Warren and Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary spoke to City Council members before their budget vote on June 16, 2020. Patti Singer/Minority Reporter Media Group

One budget passed, and another was symbolically rejected as Rochester City Council took on two major issues at its June 16 meeting.

Council passed an amended city budget of $529.6 million for fiscal 2020-21 that shifted money away from the Rochester Police Department.

It rejected the Rochester City School District’s approximately $900 million spending plan for 2020-21. But the move won’t affect the district’s ability to conduct business.

As for the city budget, a day earlier City Council said it planned to move $130,000 from overtime related to special events and put it into the Bureau of Recreation and to cut the incoming recruit class in half and move $750,000 to a contingency fund that will be set aside for a task force that will look into reshaping policing in Rochester. The proposed budget had already cut $3.6 million from RPD.

The amendments were introduced and councilmembers had the opportunity to speak before the vote. Mayor Lovely Warren and Police Chief La’Ron Singletary also spoke. Before the meeting, council heard from members of the public. Most spoke in favor of deep cuts to the RPD and urged council to delay the vote, but a handful urged council not to make cuts.

The amended budget passed, 8-1. Mary Lupien voted in opposition.

Scott said she expected that some people would be disappointed that council did not go further. “But perhaps a part of the consideration they did not have is delaying a vote immediately impacts Rochester citizens. That vote sets up the tax structure for a period that begins in about two weeks. So we don’t have the luxury of delaying the vote.”

The budget takes effect July 1.

As for more changes to RPD, Scott said, “We do have at least the ability to take the time to thoroughly look at this thing. We’re not going to jump at it after three weeks of concerns being raised. It deserves the kind of attention and thoroughness that we need to put into it to re-imagine policing.”

As for the RCSD budget, council voted 1-7-1 against the plan. Malik Evans voted for it and LaShay Harris, an employee of the district, abstained. According to the City Charter, if the City Council does not approve the school district budget, the version as submitted to the mayor and council nevertheless takes effect for the upcoming fiscal year.