Wilmington City Council has voted to adopt its 2020-2021 fiscal year budget. The $206 million financial plan does not include a tax increase. Other aspects of the budget stirred controversy at the council meeting.
Council members approved the plan unanimously, despite outcries from speakers calling for a reduction in money allocated to law enforcement. Funds for public safety, which includes the fire department, make up nearly 50% of the budget.
The controversy came amid a nationwide discussion of police brutality and systemic racism, with some cities across the country now considering restructuring law enforcement, or re-allocating police funds for other social services.
Council commended the passion of protesters, but defended their decision to keep the budget as is. Mayor Bill Saffo reaffirmed his commitment to public safety, and said it was too late in the budget process to make changes. He also noted that the city declined to provide an additional $5 million the Wilmington Police Department had originally requested.
Some protesters also called for the permanent appointment of Interim Police Chief Donny Williams. Saffo said that decision would be made at a later date.