Madison Mayor defends $2 million cut to police department funding as part of 2021 City Budget

The Madison Police Department will face the largest cut to its budget it over 10 years
Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 5:19 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway defended cuts to her recently released 2021 city budget that includes a $2 million reduction to Madison Police Department funding.

In a statement Wednesday the Mayor said the city’s priority, despite facing a $20 million budget deficit, is to create “safe, strong, healthy neighborhoods with an emphasis on infrastructure spending.” The Mayor said the majority of the budget has been allocated to pipes and sewage, building maintenance, public transportation, social services and funding city staff, public health, fire protection and police positions.

However, MPD will take the largest cut to its budget in over 10 years. Rhodes-Conway said she took “the most discretion over how the City’s General Fund is allocated” to the police department when creating the budget. Further, the cuts to the department include moving staff out of MPD and into other departments.

Despite the cuts, the Mayor said the police budget continues to grow because of rising health care and pension costs, coupled with the previous administration’s entrance into a multiyear contract that includes a 3.75 percent raise in 2021. Rhodes-Conway says the City can no longer afford this raise. Additionally, the Mayor said she has been asking the police union to reopen their contract since May of this year but they have declined.

NBC15 reached out to MPD for comment but did not receive an answer.

The Mayor acknowledged the cuts to the police budget are more modest than what some members of the community have been calling for. She said this is because Madison is seeing “skyrocketing gun violence,” population expansion and unemployment due to the pandemic.

The Finance Department informed the Mayor’s budget by sharing that a five percent reduction in the police budget will render 52 people out of work and a 10 percent reduction will render 104 people out of work.

NBC15 reached out to the Mayor’s office for clarification on if people employed by MPD will face job loss due to the budget cuts but did not receive an answer.

The budget will be reviewed by the Common Council before it is amended and adopted in November.

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