Erie City Council to Review Police Complement Resolution
Erie City Council is set to review a resolution that impacts the size of the Erie Police Department's complement.
Councilman Ed Brzezinski is calling on council to repeal their previous vote.
"I'm not trying to be melodramatic, but you can spend money on beautiful parks and have dead teenagers in them because they are shooting each other," said Brzezinski. "It's time that we step up."
In June, Erie City Council voted to hire nine new police officers.
The hirings are part of Mayor Joe Schember's plan to use $14.5 million in American Rescue Plan funds to boost public safety and address youth violence.
Immediately after the vote, Erie City Councilman Chuck Nelson presented a resolution to ensure that the positions would not be funded after 2024.
"The City of Erie is looking at a budget deficit of $8.7 million in 2026," said Nelson. "That's part of the reason why the police vote was significant to have it reigned in, because that's $3.5 million of that $8.7 million deficit. We'd still even with that police resolution look at a $5 million deficit, but we got some solutions with the ARP money to address that deficit for the taxpayers."
Under the resolution---which was passed by council in a 4-3 vote---the city's police force cannot exceed 175 officer in 2024.
Once the ARP funding is gone, the city plans to use grant money to sustain the jobs, as well as not filling positions when officers retire.
On Wednesday, Brzezinski will call on council to reverse their decision.
"It won't fall on taxpayers," said Brzezinski. "If push comes to shove, then we cut other programs. There's a lot of money floating around and we could take some of those monies from those different buckets, put it into a protected fund and have it grow."
Meanwhile, Nelson wants city council members to focus on the city's ARP Revenue Replacement funds.
"What I'm hoping to see is that through final rules of revenue replacement, that we designated money before we knew how we could use it," said Nelson. "We only budgeted $5 million for revenue replacement and the way our budget is looking, I think we could get about $50 million in revenue replacement, which is a way more flexible revenue source for the city."
Erie City Council will review the resolution Wednesday at 9 a.m.
This story is supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.