South Bend activists disappointed with public input for 2022 budget
Black Lives Matter South Bend is calling the City of South Bend’s 2022 budget process “racist” and “anti-black”. At least one member of the South Bend Common Council says he's been frustrated with the process, as well.
BLM activists say they want the opportunity to question department heads at length, with each department making a case for public dollars under public scrutiny. But the length of public budget meetings, which are typically scheduled for one to two hours, have limited time for in-depth Q-and-A sessions.
"Several of our members have attended every budget hearing thus far and have raised important questions regarding equity and inclusion of Black, Westside communities and organizations. To date, many of our concerns and questions have gone unaddressed,” Black Lives Matter South Bend co-founder Jorden Giger said during a press conference, Wednesday morning. He said the budget process and proposal are, "racist, anti-black and anti-poor," for not, in his opinion, properly addressing issues of racial inequality detailed in a 2017 report from Prosperity Now.
The city says the 2022 budget process has seen unprecedented levels of public engagement. There have been four public meetings on the budget in the month of September, alone, with another scheduled September 30th, at 6pm.
South Bend Common Council member Henry Davis, Jr. told ABC57 he’s been personally frustrated with the process.
"We need to slow down. I think the breaks need to be pumped. We need to slow down and get people in the process that deserve to be at the table,” Davis said. “[Budget makers] probably need a week-long session with the public that's probably going to be over 8 hours to get to what we're looking for, in order for our constituents to get what they deserve.”
Black Lives Matter South Bend said if concerns are not addressed, they will petition against the proposed budget.
Full statement from director of Communications for the Office of the Mayor, Caleb Bauer:
“The 2022 budget process has included unprecedented levels of engagement with South Bend residents through multiple in-person feedback meetings, official Common Council budget committee meetings, an online budget survey, and feedback through 311. The City has already received more feedback from residents and organizations than in any prior budget cycle, and all feedback is considered in the formation of the 2022 budget.
Thanks to federal resources from the American Rescue Plan, the administration's proposed 2022 budget includes transformative investments in historically underserved neighborhoods, affordable housing, neighborhood infrastructure, violence intervention, and community centers. These investments will build stronger neighborhoods, expand access to opportunity, advance equity, and make South Bend a safer city for everyone. We look forward to continuing conversations with the Common Council and community as the 2022 budget moves forward.”