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Omaha mayor details 2021 budget proposal

Stothert said she has no plans to 'defund the police'
Posted at 2:33 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 00:12:19-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert detailed her 2021 budget proposal on Tuesday.

Stothert said she's operating as if conditions will be normal in 2021. She isn't proposing any taxes increases or decreases.

Her budget proposal includes a 4.6 increase in the general fund, a 1.2 percent increase in police funding and a 3.2 percent increase in the fire budget.

Stothert said she won't "defund the police." She says $162 million is budgeted for police in 2021. They're expanding the mental health co-responder program and adding body cams.

Stothert said defunding police would include laying off police officers. She said that would be irresponsible and reckless.

This drew over a dozen people to protest at the city council meeting, when Mayor Stothert was delivering her speech to the council.

Many of the activists want to defund the police department.

Stothert says that would take years of preparation, if that was something the city would consider.

“We can’t just take a bunch of police officers and lay them off and say, ‘Oh we're going to start thinking about some programs.' You got to have those first and you got to prove that they work. Before you could ever say that we don’t need any police officers that we have now," says Stothert.

One of the reasons the general fund is rising because of a new waste contract that will go up by 44 percent in 2021. The contract was already passed by the city council.

The city is also adding $40 million to street repairs. That's from the bond passed in May. A total of $81 million will be used for street repair in 2021. $6 million will go towards improving roads in high poverty areas.

The budget proposal heads to city council.

Stothert was also asked about doing a mask mandate like the one put in place in Lincoln. She said she doesn't have the authority per the city charter and that it's up to county health director Dr. Adi Pour or Gov. Pete Ricketts.

A spokesperson for the county health department says they are researching to see if they legally institute a mask mandate. Gov. Ricketts has been vocal against such measures.