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Public safety, code enforcement, infrastructure top Evans’s budget


Multiple investments aimed at enhancing public safety, boosting code enforcement, and expanding the city’s nascent Person in Crisis Team were priority items in a proposed city budget unveiled Friday by Mayor Malik Evans.

The $627 million spending plan represents a $55 million increase from the previous year, a number that might seem astronomical but is in line with the nation’s skyrocketing inflation rate, roughly 9 percent. About half of that growth comes from federal American Rescue Plan Act funds directed to Rochester to offset pandemic induced economic damage. Despite the large budget increase, the city’s tax levy has remained flat.

Taxes will remain flat for the average Rochester homeowner, who would see a tax bill increase of less than a buck.

“Today, I am filled with more optimism than I had on my first day in office,” Evans said. “I am also filled with more gray hair on my head than I had my first day in office. The budget I submit today is an expression of my skills, and ambitions, and abilities that our city translated into tangible actions.”

As the city continues to grapple with a surge of violent crime and homicide, Evans’ 2023 budget proposal provides a boost for public safety spending.

Earlier this year, Evans announced he would be moving the city’s violence prevention initiatives underneath the mayor’s office. His budget proposal would provide a bump of $8.4 million for the programs under it, including Pathways to Peace and the Office of Neighborhood Safety.

The budget also includes a proposed $630,000 boost to the Person in Crisis (PIC) Team and sets a goal of staffing an around-the-clock unit available to respond to mental health crisis calls on weekdays and weekends. The PIC Team was created following public outrage around the death of Daniel Prude at the hands of Rochester police officers, and is modeled after Eugene, Oregon’s CAHOOTS mobile crisis response unit.

Meanwhile, the Rochester Police Department budget would be reduced by about $700,000 under Evans’ proposed spending plan, though it would still get $90 million. The Police Accountability Board will continue receiving a $5 million budget.

The budget would also provide for six new trainee code enforcement officers to help beef up the city’s code enforcement office. The goal of better code enforcement, as described in a statement from City Hall, is to “promote increased landlord accountability and property inspections.”

The budget would also dedicate an additional $1 million to meeting the recommendations of the city-county Commission on Racial and Structural Equity. The Commission first received a $1 million budget allocation under Mayor Lovely Warren’s 2021-22 plan.

The COVID relief funds used in the budget would go towards a handful of infrastructure projects, including lead water service line replacements and the “Buy the Block” program, meant to support homeownership in neighborhoods that formerly were redlined.

“I believe in Rochester, and I am working hard to make a difference in our great city,” Evans said. “And I continue to ask for everyone’s help. I am convinced that through collaboration and investment together, we will create limitless success.”

Evans’ budget will now be reviewed by City Council, which has set its first hearing for May 23.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or [email protected].