PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –Under unprecedented circumstances, virtual hearings and a marathon session that went well into the night Wednesday, Philadelphia City council gave preliminary approval to a fiscal year 2021 budget. Council was tasked with tackling a $749 million budget deficit spawned by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The preliminary budget deal cuts $33 million from the Philadelphia Police Department’s budget and adds plans to implement police reform measures like more body cameras and implicit bias training for officers.
The drastic cuts come in the midst of ongoing demonstrations throughout the city, demanding police reform and calls to defund the police.
“I wanna thank the thousands of people that rallied and sent emails and reached out to us on social media regarding this budget. I think today’s first step in getting the budget done reflects the calls for change,” Councilman Derrick Green said.
Other budget proposals include a $5.8 million reduction to the fire department’s budget, an increase in the parking tax, as well as an increase to the nonresident wage and net profit tax.
Officials say the cuts to the police and fire departments would allow for greater funding for housing, arts, workforce development and more.
Council members held a first reading of the budget during its meeting on Thursday.
Among many cuts to city services, the budget restores $1.3 million to arts and culture funding, invests $20 million in affordable housing and $25 million in reducing poverty.
Mayor Jim Kenney had this to say about a final revised budget that will soon be heading his way.
“It pains me that this budget reduces some city services and eliminates hundreds of jobs. Still, we have prioritized core services, protected our most vulnerable residents and maintained our financial flexibility to enable a quick rebuild,” Kenney said. “In short, I believe this budget will accomplish the goal I laid out on May 1.”
The Fraternal Order of Police issued a scathing response to the proposed cuts to the police department.
“This spending plan will devastate any efforts by the police department to engage and fund numerous community outreach programs. Our political leadership is tone-deaf and blind to the realities of public safety in our city by implementing these drastic budget cuts,” FOP President John McNesby said.
City Council will give final approval to the budget on June 26.
CBS3’s Natasha Brown contributed to this report.