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Philadelphia City Council Approves Fiscal Year 2021 Budget That Slashes Police Funding, Features Coronavirus Cuts

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia City Council gave final approval to the fiscal year 2021 operating budget on Thursday. They were tasked with filling a massive $749 million deficit brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

While the budget reduces $33 million in police department funding, it pours $45 million into affordable housing, arts funding and social services that address poverty. Libraries also received a significant reduction in funding, slashing neighborhood branches from six to five days a week. The iconic Parkway Central branch, along with four regional libraries, will now be closed on Sunday.

"I cannot in good faith vote on a budget that shows disregard of the voices of our constituents, and when we failed to listen to the people that we served, we failed to represent them, that's why I'll be voting no," Councilmember Kendra Brooks said.

While not every councilmember voted to approve the budget, it passed overwhelmingly and now heads back to Mayor Jim Kenney's office for his signature before the start of the July 1 fiscal year.

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City Council had lots of ground to cover during its last meeting before it adjourns for the summer. Passionate responses came from those who pushed for residency requirements for city civil service employees.

"If you work for the City of Philadelphia, we want you to live here," Councilmember Cherelle Parker said.

The bill is designed to enhance the diversity and demographics of the Philadelphia Police Department amid cries for police reform.

"The people policing the City of Philadelphia should look like the City of the Philadelphia," Parker said. "The new cadet classes coming in should look like the City of Philadelphia."

Council President Darrell Clarke says City Council will likely have to reconvene to readjust the budget as the city continues to deal with the financial impact of COVID-19.

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