Flint, MI– The Flint City Council met with department heads and city administration to discuss the upcoming budgets for police, blight, and the city clerk’s office during a “call back” budget hearing on May 12.
Over the course of a few hours, council members discussed further the needs of these departments, especially in light of the federal American Rescue Plan funds coming into the city.
In March, the City of Flint found out it would be receiving about $99 million in federal funding. On May 11, the U.S. Treasury released the finalized numbers, outlining $94.7 million for the City of Flint.
Here is what the council discussed for the budget for each department:
There were two main needs of the police department that were discussed with Police Chief Terence Green: technology and staffing.
Green said the department had just completed a project installing $68,000 worth of cameras around the city, but that he could use five to ten more advanced (and expensive) cameras.
These cameras would cost about $12,000 each, Green said. People in charge of monitoring them would be responsible for seeking charges against violators caught on camera, and could work in conjunction with the office of blight to catch illegal dumpers.
Councilman Eric Mays proposed spending $1.2 million and buying 100 of these cameras, and said he wasn’t excited by purchasing only five or ten. But Green said the department would not have the capacity to utilize that many of them.
Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter asked Green if the department could use special cameras that detect gunshots. She said she thought these would be extremely helpful to the department, but Green said they were still evaluating that technology.
“It’s very expensive, and we don’t want to waste the taxpayers’ money on something that’’s not going to be feasible,” he said.
Aside from the five to ten cameras Green said the department needed, he said the department was “pretty much squared away,” as far as technology goes.
The next need Green cited was for more staffing. The council spoke with Green about how many vacancies there are in the department, and how many more positions they could use.
For FY 2022 and 2023, the proposed budget funds 118 full-time police officer positions, 8 part-time police officer positions, 24 full-time civilian positions, and 38 part-time civilian positions.
Green said there were currently about 22 vacancies, although he said background checks were underway for 10-13 candidates to go into the police academy.
Still, he said he could take as many people as he could get. Ideally, he said they would almost double the number of detectives they have, and add two to three more patrol officers to each shift.
Chief Financial Officer Shelbi Frayer said she would “conservatively” budget $100,000 for each new officer position created.
Aside from creating new officer positions, the council discussed the use of civilian volunteer officers and interns.
The Flint Police Department used to use reserve officers, but due to state restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Green said the department is unable to use those officers at this time.
“I’m not preparing the list of those that are interested for once the governor…loosens her restrictions,” Green said. “We’re definitely going to utilize those volunteers. We need them to assist us, but we’re just waiting on the state restrictions to be lifted or loosened.”
There was also some discussion about bringing in interns to the police department. Green did not know the specifics of how interns would be compensated or if they would receive college credits, but said the department could use at least five interns.
Specifically, Green said they would look for University of Michigan-Flint and Mott Community College students seeking a career in criminal justice. He said they could help with a backlog of cases in the detective bureau.
Councilman Mays suggested budgeting for a Public Relations campaign aimed at recruiting people for the police department.
You can read more about what was discussed during the previous budget hearing for the police, here.
On May 4, the City of Flint sent out a press release announcing that Mayor Sheldon Neeley would be committing $2 million of the incoming federal funds to blight.
Councilman Mays questioned the administration about where that number came from and how they intended on spending it, since that commitment had not been discussed in council budget hearings.
Frayer said the city would need to prove a loss of revenue of $2 million to get those funds, which she said they could do. If the City received those dollars, they would try to put a portion of the $2 million into a final amendment for the budget for the current year, FY 2021, and the remaining amount into the budget for the next fiscal year.
City Administrator Clyde Edwards said they envisioned the money being used to buy equipment for blight, including front-end loaders, and for authorized personnel, and laborers.
You can read more about what was discussed for the blight budget at the previous hearing, here.
City Clerk’s Office
There were three things that City Clerk Inez Brown requested during this call back budget hearing.
Brown said there are only two full-time employees in the Elections Division, so she is requesting a third. She says this is “desperately” needed.
She also requested $20,000 under “professional services,” in order to hire someone to assist the Clerk’s Office in redrawing the map of the wards in the city of Flint for the upcoming U.S. Census; and another $20,000 to print supplemental materials for the City’s code of ordinance books.