D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) will present the City Council with a $23 million supplemental budget on Wednesday that she said will help District authorities address problems at the D.C. crime lab, allow the city to implement a stalled plan to outfit 2,800 police officers with body cameras, and launch a new job-training program for at-risk young adults.
The supplemental budget draws on a $117 million revenue increase predicted by the District’s chief financial officer, the mayor said Tuesday at a news conference. Bowser plans to submit the budget as emergency legislation and is urging the council “to act as quickly as possible,” according to her spokesman, Michael Czin.
Because the budget involves fiscal 2015 funds, the District government will have to spend it before fiscal 2016 starts on Oct. 1.
That leaves the council with little time to hold hearings or to make changes to the document before sending it back to the mayor. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said that he met Tuesday with Bowser and told her that he would support council action on the document next week but that he would not guarantee support for all of her proposed measures.
Bowser said Tuesday that she has briefed other council members on her budget proposal, but at least two of them, including Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), said they had yet to see details. Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and an aide attended Tuesday’s news conference at a recreation center in Northeast Washington to learn more about the mayor’s forthcoming legislation.
The mayor’s multimillion dollar proposal includes $8 million to improve DNA testing and staffing at the troubled D.C. Department of Forensic Sciences.
The lab was forced to suspend DNA testing earlier this year after an audit found that analysts at the lab were “not competent and were using inadequate procedures,” and that the lab had produced inaccurate analyses of crime scene DNA in some instances. Bowser, who replaced the department’s director in July, said that the extra funds would help get the $220 million facility, which opened in 2012, back on track.
The mayor’s proposal also includes $5.4 million to fully implement an earlier plan to outfit 2,800 police officers with body cameras. The D.C. Council refused to approve the mayor’s earlier proposal because it did not include funds that would make video footage available to the public through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Kevin Donahue, the mayor’s deputy city administrator and deputy mayor for public safety, said Tuesday that nearly half of that $5.4 million would be used to cover FOIA request costs. The rest would go toward purchasing an additional 1,600 body cameras.
Bowser chose to highlight a new $4.5 million job training program for at-risk young adults as the central component of her supplemental budget proposal.
She said that the proposed D.C. Career Connection program would target young adults ages 20 to 24 and “will give up to 400 people the training skills and wrap around services that they need for success in their job and career.” The program would run from October to June.
An additional $2.3 million would go toward placing 50 people in waste collection and customer service jobs at the D.C. Department of Public Works and the Department of Parks and Recreation, she said.
Her proposal also included $1.25 million in small grants to community organizations and $1.6 million to improve lighting and security cameras at city recreation centers and at private buildings in an effort to counter the city’s recent surge in violence and homicides.
Another $326,000 would go toward city testing of synthetic drugs, which D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has partly blamed for the violence since May.