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The city’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year includes a roughly $1 million increase for the Bozeman Police Department, the largest jump for the police budget in recent years.

The proposed fiscal year 2022 budget includes about $10.8 million for the Bozeman Police Department, an increase over the $9.9 million budget approved for fiscal year 2021.

The police budget has been increased steadily for years, but the difference between 2021’s $9.9 million and 2022’s proposed $10.8 million is the largest year-over-year increase in recent years.

Bozeman Police Chief Jim Veltkamp said that funding increase, allocated by the city, will mainly go toward personnel expenses. That includes anticipated wage increases and adding four civil staff to the department once the new Public Safety Center opens next spring. It takes into account potential union and collective bargaining agreements for wage increases, too, he said, and “the fact that the city recognizes how expensive it is to live in Bozeman now.”

The fiscal year runs from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. The City Council must approve the budget before July 1.

The city’s overall proposed budget is $153.7 million. About $36.3 million of that is from the city’s general fund, where the police department draws its funding. The proposed police budget is 25% of the general fund.

Veltkamp said the department generally asks the City Council to consider putting three replacement patrol vehicles in the budget to maintain its 24-vehicle fleet, but did not do that this year.

“The only additional vehicle that we’re asking for is a transport van, and that is because we’re going to be moving into the Public Safety Center and the courts will be located over there,” he said.

The courts in the Law and Justice center and the county detention center are neighboring facilities. But once the Public Safety Center opens, people being put in custody will need to be transported by law enforcement from that campus at the corner of Rouse Avenue and Tamarack Street to the detention center.

A new cost in the 2022 proposed budget is the $140,000 per year that will help install and maintain a new dashboard camera system and body worn camera system. The public engagement process for those body cameras is planned to begin sometime in 2022.

“I certainly understand all of the contention out there” as far as police funding goes, Veltkamp said. “We are very very cognizant of spending tax money and I think we do a very good job of making sure that we only ask for what we need.”

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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