Note: This is the third in a series of blog posts about the proposed budget for fiscal year 2022.
Round Rock’s track record on providing premier public safety programs is well-documented. Since 2007, the City has been routinely recognized as one of America’s safest cities. In 2013, voters approved funding for a training center that provides best-in-class facilities for our first responders.
The proposed fiscal year 2022 budget includes significant spending increases for both police and fire, who together make up nearly half of the $133.5 million General Fund.
A new mobile outreach team will improve our public safety response to behavioral healthcare, which includes mental illness and substance abuse. The City is planning to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to cover $5.7 million of the team’s start-up costs over the next three years.
The Police Department is seeking six new field officers and four non-commissioned specialists as part of a $37 million budget that is 7 percent higher than the current year. Chief Allen Banks says the new personnel are needed to grow the department’s capabilities to respond to a growing community.
The Fire Department is looking at a 16-percent increase, which is needed to fund a new program that benefits both police and fire.
The program will improve our public safety response to behavioral healthcare, which includes mental illness and substance abuse. The City Council has prioritized improving our response to those types of calls, and the proposed fiscal year 2022 budget includes $2 million in new funding for a mobile outreach team.
Fire Chief Robert Isbell said the 14-member team would function as mental health first responders, integrating with police, fire and emergency management to provide emergency and non-emergency behavioral healthcare.
The City is planning to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to cover $5.7 million of the program’s start-up costs over the next three years.
Both Chiefs say the new program is needed to respond to the growing number of mental health calls received by 9-1-1 call takers.
“We need to be able to respond appropriately and effectively to healthcare emergencies,” Chief Isbell said. “This new team will also provide on-going support to those in our community dealing with these types of issues in an effort to prevent a mental health crisis. In that way, it’s similar to our fire prevention programs: we’d rather provide education and support on the front end to avoid having to respond to an emergency that could have been avoided.”
Chief Banks says the new team will allow RRPD officers to focus more resources on crime and community relations rather than medical calls.
“I wholeheartedly support this new team,” Chief Banks said. “It’s a service that’s definitely needed in a growing community like Round Rock.”