The Rapid City Council voted 8-0 Wednesday to approve the first reading of the 2021 fiscal year budget with few questions on the revenue forecast or expenditures.
Ward 4 City Councilor John Roberts did not attend Wednesday evening's meeting.
Mayor Steve Allender presented the budget to the council on Aug. 17, showing $68.9 million in projected revenue in the city's general fund and $63.6 million in budgeted expenses for the upcoming year.
The city's enterprise fund, which is comprised of city services that are self-funded, includes $176.7 million in projected expenses.
The largest portion of the general fund budget is for public safety, comprising 48.88% of general fund expenses.
The police department would see a 6.9% increase in funding to nearly $17 million. In 2020, the police department received $15.8 million. The fire department would receive a 3.6% boost from the previous year, $12.2 million versus $11.7 million.
Ward 5 City Councilor Darla Drew addressed the need for the increased police budget and disputed recent calls nationally and by a handful of Rapid City residents to defund the department.
"We definitely need our police to be fully funded. I don't think I'm talking out of school when I say we've seen the crime rate and the homicide rate just this month," Drew said. "So, we need those police to be fully funded and on the job. That's not anything I am going to look at in this budget."
The 2021 fiscal year budget includes an expected $753,068 in undesignated cash revenue, something that has been out of the normal for the past few years.
Allender explained last week the undesignated cash income is from savings made when the City Council amended the 2020 budget in May to cut expenditures in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"When the council came together to change the budget authority for the 2020 budget, city operations began spending at a 10% lower rate," Allender said on Aug. 18. "Meanwhile, what we couldn't have known then but we do know now is that we are earning at a steady rate. We are not earning at a sharply decreased rate. That difference is earned cash that is now undesignated."
Ward 2 City Councilor Ritchie Nordstrom said the undesignated cash included in the 2021 budget may increase as the city begins receiving $17.5 million in federal CARES Act funding to assist city government during the pandemic.
"This virus has also affected a lot of other things within the community. It's put a big delay on a lot of things we would like to do," Nordstrom said. "But if we can just kind of hang on for a little bit, the mayor's proposal to put most of the CARES Act money into undesignated cash, we can take a longer look at it and address the needs a little bit better for the community."
After approving the first reading of the budget, the City Council set the second reading for the regular council meeting on Sept. 8.
The council must fully approve the city budget by Sept. 30.
Contact Assistant Managing Editor Nathan Thompson at email@example.com.
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