Tampa City Council will hold their first official 2022 budget meeting on Monday at 5 p.m. as debate swirls about how funding should be allocated.
The proposed budget, which was presented in August by Mayor Jane Castor, comes in at $1,802,092,727.
During a rare, last minute budget workshop called by the city council in August, council members suggested more money for affordable housing.
“Housing is a big crisis,” said Council Chair Gudes during the meeting.
Councilman John Dingfelder called for more funding from the American Rescue Plan to go towards affordable housing, with support from Gudes and other council members.
Dingfelder pointed out that the economy and people’s lives have been deeply impacted by the effects of COVID-19, and that affordable housing is urgently needed in Tampa, especially at a time when renters are currently facing an “avalanche” of evictions.
Meanwhile, local activists have called for Tampa Police Department (TPD) funding to be allocated to community needs. TPD’s budget is proposed to increase slightly this year, after increasing more than any other major city in the US last fiscal year.
The activists suggested several community programs that could be implemented with funding allocated for police, including a universal child care program, a jobs guarantee program and more money for affordable housing, among other suggestions.
In a letter shared with city council and the mayor, the activists explained their proposal.
“As independent activists, we have spent hours upon hours of unpaid labor to provide the City Council with solutions that have been proven to work in various cities, as well as suggestions for the creation of brand new solutions,” the document reads. “Hundreds upon hundreds of Tampans of all ages, races, religions, genders, and backgrounds spoke out at the city budget hearings last September and echoed our demand: defund the police and refund the community.”
Creative Loafing Tampa Bay reached out to City of Tampa Communications Director Adam Smith about the activist’s proposals in August but did not receive a response.
Mayor Castor said the new budget platform seeks to provide a new level of transparency for the City of Tampa.
"Our residents deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent," Mayor Castor said in a press release. "As good financial stewards, we want to make it as easy and transparent as possible for the public to engage with our budget process. OpenGov provides 21st-century tools to visualize meaningful data that showcases how funds are spent to keep the city running and transform Tampa's tomorrow."
Send anonymous news tips to [email protected]. Support local journalism in these crazy days. Our small but mighty team works tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Tampa and surrounding areas. Please consider making a one time or monthly donation to help support our staff. Every little bit helps.