Superior Mayor’s 2021 Budget Proposes More Officer Training, Adding Social Worker to Police Dept.
The budget makes use of the roughly $385,000 surplus from last year.
SUPERIOR, Wis.- Superior Mayor Jim Paine announced his 2021 budget proposal Monday. Calling it the most ambitious budget of his administration, it includes the largest investment into police training in the city’s history, and adding a social worker to the department.
According to Mayor Paine, excess funds of $385,468 from the year 2019 will help the city forward through the uncertain future of the COVID-19 pandemic. $40,000 of that surplus will be added to the city’s Hotel Motel fund to help offset some of the lost revenue from 2020.
“The most concerning aspect of the pandemic affects the finances of the community surrounding us, particularly the state of Wisconsin,” he said. “And that will likely trickle down at some point to the City of Superior.”
“What I can say is that our financial condition is strong enough to weather just about whatever the state throws at us,” said the Mayor.
Protests across the country have intensified following following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, seven times in the back by Kenosha, Wisconsin Police.
“I’m committed to nothing less than having the most effective, professional Police Department in the state of Wisconsin,” Paine said at Monday’s press conference. “I don’t intend for that to be a talking point, I don’t intend for that to be an idle brag.”
The addition of a social worker to the Police Department is something Paine said he has been discussing with the Police Chief for some time. It was also the highest priority for Superior City Councilors for the coming year.
“It’s a way to allow our Police Department to respond to crises in different ways to give them different tools and to recognize that a patrol officer or a detective don’t always have the professional training to respond to every public safety issue,” said Paine.
On top of the added position, $10,000 will be invested into training, a 21% increase from the previous year.
“It’s just about the next step. To continue the training we’ve already done, to find more innovative training and to continue to put officers through the same training over and over again,” the Mayor said.
Earlier this month at a protest outside the Government Center, pro-police protesters clashed with the “Reconstruct the SPD” group, who called for increased officer training and mental health training.
They also called to decrease officer salaries and reallocate funds from the police for mental health services, which Paine spoke to at the presser.
“We don’t take from one thing to give to another we have one fixed amount of revenue and we disperse it according to the needs and priorities of the community,” he said.
Meanwhile, Paine also proposes a Capital Improvement Plan which allocates roughly $5 million for 2021.
This includes $150,000 into new sidewalk snow removal equipment after last year’s Thanksgiving storm left many sidewalks unusable.
“I hope that that doesn’t happen this year but if it does we’re gonna have more stuff that can respond to that,” said Mayor Paine. “When kids need to get to school they’re not gonna be walking in the street this winter that’s our goal.”
Paine said his proposed budget will only be of benefit to Superior residents.
“We are directly increasing services to the City of Superior, you will notice this,” he said. “The best part about it is you don’t have to pay more for it.”
“I recognize that now is not the time to ask more of citizens but I’ve never really believed that we should be increasing taxes on citizens. I believe that we should be increasing our tax base, growing our community,” he said.
The proposal goes to a first reading at City Council Tuesday, and the Mayor said he encourages the council to table it and discuss it further, and come to him with any questions. So a vote may not come until the following council meeting, or even the next one in early October.