EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Evansville City Council President Alex Burton has filed an amendment to the proposed 2020 budget that would consider moving money from the police department to help pay for an affordable housing project.
The amendment calls to reallocate $250,000 from the police department budget to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
Monday was the first reading of the amendment and no action was taken.
It didn’t stop members of the council and Evansville residents from having strong opinions.
“We are in a point of time where things are uncertain, we have to increase revenue, we have to find those things, right? So this was my idea,” said Burton.
According to the proposed amendment, $250,000 of unallocated money from the Public Safety Local Income Tax Fund would then be moved into the overall police department budget.
“Basically it sits there and it’s something that can be drawn from to fund the budget,” said city attorney Josh Claybourne.
“In the midst of COVID, when things were shut down the same thing happened, we moved funds around. It’s apart of government operations and budgeting,” said Burton.
Other city council members and those in attendance didn’t agree.
“When you start talking about taking general fund money from the police department and reallocating it to another fund and then taking money from the police and fire department’s public safety, that is defunding our police department,” said councilwoman Missy Mosby.
“I’m not against affordable housing. I think it’s needed. I think better education is needed in our community. I think we need better healthcare,” said DJ Thompson, President of FOP. “I just don’t like to see it all taken out of our budget.”
“The public safety bowl of money is $250,000 short, the money is gone, it’s spent and it’s went to affordable housing. $250,000 less is going to the police to be spent," said Justin Elpers. "That’s defunding the police, Kathy, you got it right.”
The amendment states that the police department will not see any reduction in funding but has drawn mixed reactions from council members.
“This is not an attempt to defund the police. There was just going to be a different source of revenue that they received,” said councilman Rob Beane.
“It’s a net loss of $250,000 a year to the Evansville police department, so that is defunding the police department, which I am not in favor of," said councilman Jonathan Weaver.
Evansville Chief of Police Billy Bolin said he spoke with Council President Alex Burton over the weekend, and that the proposed amendment does not raise any concern for him.
“I don’t think there was ever the intent of taking $250,000 from us. I think it was just going to be moving from different funds, so it was really something that didn’t concern me too much. If money was coming out of my budget, that would concern me, but I was not concerned with what I am hearing here," Bolin said.
Council is expected to meet again in two weeks. The city budget must be finalized by November 1.