Madison’s City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to pass the city’s 2022 operating budget, which includes increasing the Madison Police Department’s funds by $1 million and a $18 million operating budget gap.

The decision to increase the MPD’s budget drew criticism from many members of the public attending the virtual meeting.

Some criticized the city for giving more money to MPD while it asked other agencies to reduce their budget proposal by 5% because of the budget deficit.

If we were investing in literacy programs and housing and all of the things that we have the opportunity to invest in, we wouldn’t have cases of young, generally, 18 to 25 year old black males who are being sought out by our police department,” one public commenter said.

Spring Election advisory referendum to allow voters to weigh in on City Council structureThe April 6 Spring Election ballot will include four advisory referendum questions about the Madison Common Council’s size, the amount Read…

Other commenters criticized the funding increase itself, which comes over a year after George Floyd’s killing sparked protests across Madison about systemic racism and police brutality.

In MPD’s 2022 budget request, Police Chief Shon Barnes said reducing the department’s budget by 5% would hurt its racial equity initiatives.

“Implementing a cut to MPD’s 2022 budget will have an adverse impact on the department’s efforts to advance the City’s equity goals,” Barnes said. “A 5% budget cut would eliminate this section and jeopardize these efforts moving forward.”

District 8 Ald. Juliana Bennett said adding MPD officers was an expensive part of the budget. MPD pays all recruits a salary while they are undergoing MPD training, Bennett said. It takes 10 months of training before a MPD recruit can go on solo patrol, according to the MPD website.

But the police industry has a fast turn-over rate, Bennett said. There is no guarantee the recruits who complete MPD training stay with the department long. If an MPD officer leaves relatively soon after complete training, then the money spent on them was wasted, she said.

In the MPD budget request, Barnes said the department needs to add officers in the 2022 fiscal year to account for 5,000 citizens the city will gain due to the Town of Madison merger at the start of next year.

Madison proposes making alder full-time position, increasing payThe Madison City Council proposed making an alder’s job a full-time position and increasing the pay for alders. According to Read…

Barnes estimated that 5% reduction to MPD’s operating budget would mean 36 officers and eight full-time civilian positions would be eliminated.

But Bennett said the money the city is giving to MPD is coming at the expense of community-building agencies, such as libraries and building inspection.

Despite some push-back on the MPD budget allocation during the hour-long public comment period of the meeting, the council voted unanimously in favor of adopting the proposed 2022 operating budget.

The common council will meet next on Nov. 2. The Finance Committee will meet Oct. 25.