With lower projected tax revenues Elk Grove adopts 2021 budget, hears criticism on law enforcement funding

In fiscal year 2021, 67-percent of Elk Grove's general funds are budgeted for the Elk Grove Police Department. | 

On Wednesday night, the Elk Grove City Council adopted a budget for the next fiscal year while hearing something largely absent from similar hearings over the last several years - public criticism. 

By a 5 - 0 vote, the city council adopted the budget for 2021. The state-mandated balanced budget of $74.3 million for fiscal year 2021, which starts on July 1, will see decreased revenues of about $7 million as a result of the recession brought on by the COVID19 pandemic.

The largest sources of revenue decline in the 2021 general fund come from reduced sales tax revenues of $4.7 million. The remaining revenue reductions are from lower property taxes, hotel room fees, and other miscellaneous revenue sources.

Revenues and expenditures for the general fund are forecasted to drop by 2.5 and 4.4 percent, respectively. Much of the cost reductions come from not filling 10 additional positions allocated in the five-year budget plan, reduced payments to the California Public Employees Retirement System, and the elimination of discretionary travel and training.  

Unlike hearings over the last several years where budgets were adopted with no public comment and minimal city council oversight, the city council heard criticism on funding for law enforcement. The city also followed one recommendation suggested during public comment.

The criticism during public comment focused on the budget for the Elk Grove Police Department, which receives over 60-percent of the general fund budget. Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police, a national discussion over law enforcement funding has developed.

According to city clerk Jason Lindgren, there were 19 written and three recorded comments submitted. Three speakers spoke in real-time during the hearing. 

One person who said police department funding should be scrutinized was Elon Gunning, who referenced the death of Mr.  Goerge Lloyd and said the city should reexamine the police department's budget.

"The Elk Grove Police Department is set to take 67-percent of the general fund," she said. "That is entirely too much money."

As an alternative, Gunning said police funding should be reduced by 30-percent and diverted to programs such as community grants, that an audit is conducted by the city council of the municipal codes to ensure the most vulnerable in the community are protected, and a civilian oversight committee of the police department.

The city council adopted an idea by resident and District 3 city council candidate Lynn Wheat who suggested that given the severity of the recession and sales tax revenue decline, there should be quarterly budget reviews. In the past, budget reviews were semi-annually.   

Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2020. All right reserved.



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ConcernedElk said...

EGN ought to do an investigative piece on the city council members' ties to Elk Grove Law Enforcement. For example, District 4's Stephanie Nguyen husband is a beat officer Kenny Viec. According to Transparent California, in 2018, he made just over $174,000. This is almost as high as Chief Timothy Albright's salary, who made ~$222,000.
As we all are aware, law enforcement and their associates have strong ties. The FY20-21 EG budget is set to devote more than 2/3 toward the EGPD. Conflict of interest much?

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