Concerns with the police department budget were at the forefront of approving the 2022 preliminary budget for the city of Braham.
The Braham City Council approved the 2022 preliminary budget during its Sept. 7 council meeting.
The council also approved the 2022 preliminary levy, which is set at $1.58 million. The preliminary levy can only be decreased or kept the same until the final 2022 budget is approved in December.
There were concerns with the impact the police department’s budget factors into Braham’s overall general fund budget.
City Administrator Angela Grafstrom noted for 2021 expenses, 43.94% of the general fund budget has been used for the police department. Grafstrom mentioned the council is not advocating to eliminate the Braham Police Department and they do not want their police officers to have any concerns about losing their jobs.
Grafstrom said the council plans to make adjustments to the police budget within the general fund budget for 2022.
“I think council should approve the preliminary budget as written and we will work on adjusting expenses afterward to reduce the police budget,” Grafstrom said.
In Grafstrom’s city administrator’s report, she mentioned the police department currently has two officers looking elsewhere for employment.
Grafstrom also said in her report that if these officers do leave the Braham Police Department for another employment opportunity, it will help restructure the department to keep current wages in place and lessen the chance of officer reductions.
Also mentioned in Grafstrom’s report: “If they do not (take new positions), the city cannot afford to continue with a police department operating with almost half of the general fund.”
Grafstrom said in her report that council would have to make hard decisions about the police department if one or both officers do not end up resigning. She also noted this plan to adjust the budget within the police department will also avoid increasing taxes.
Grafstrom clarified the budget for the police department comes from a separate pool of money than what is used for the city’s ongoing water issue.
The council will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Sept. 23 to discuss the city’s police department budget.