PORTLAND — Echoing the push from the Black Lives Matter movement to cut police departments’ budgets and reallocate the money elsewhere, several residents last week implored the Finance Committee to rethink the amount being budgeted for police.

As it stands now, City Manager Jon Jennings’ proposed $202 million budget is down $4.2 million from the current operating budget and requires no tax increase for property owners. The City Council is scheduled to finalize the budget later this month.

Not enough of that $202 million is going to social services, climate protection and even snow removal, residents said.

Christian MilNeil, of Smith Street, would like to see money from the $17.2 million police department budget reallocated to homeless services or social services.

“With our approach to homeless services and policing the homeless, we can do better and should be doing better,” MilNeil  said.

Lauren Tosswill, of Fessenden Street, agreed, saying there needs to be a “far more dramatic reallocating” of police funding into the health and human service budget, which is proposed for $33.2 million, a $1.7 million increase over current year.

Peter McLaughlin, of Peaks Island, said although he applauds the increase in the health and human services budget and the $561,700 decrease in the police budget, it is not nearly enough.

“Few in the community thought you would defund the police this year. That’s understandable, but you need to be taking a better faith effort in this budget. You need to go bigger and take a larger step,” he said.

Katherine Harrelson, a Portland resident and member of 350 Maine, a climate change advocacy group, said this budget needs to fully fund the sustainability office, where a sustainability associate position is being eliminated.

“It appears to be another city budget kicks the climate can down the road,” she said.

Pat Washburn, of Cumberland Avenue, said her worry with the proposed budget is that it reduces money for snowplowing contractors, meaning it would take longer for city roads and sidewalks to be cleared after winter storms.

“I certainly don’t want to be in a position where I can’t get to work because the city hasn’t cleared the street,” said Washburn, who uses a powered chair to get to and from work on Fore Street.

She said she would like money diverted from the police budget to the public works budget to “fully fund snow removal.”

While the city has many other important issues to deal with, Robert Louis Nash, of North Street, said it is racial injustice and climate injustice that “need our attention right now.”

The Finance Committee will next meet Thursday, Sept. 10, to recommend its final budget appropriations to the full council for a Sept. 14 budget workshop and Sept. 21 final vote.

Between now and the final budget vote, Mayor Kate Snyder said some additional expenses will have to find their way into the budget, including money for the Racial Equity Steering committee work and for a possible special election to choose the remaining Charter Committee members.

“My hope is we can get cost estimates from staff related to those,” she said.

Councilor and Finance Committee member Belinda Ray said some of that money for those items could come from increasing hourly parking rates in the city by another 25 cents.

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