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City Council approves budget after clearing chambers over heated comments

Heated City Council meeting
Posted at 7:48 PM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 00:35:45-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The gallery of the Bakersfield City Council chambers was cleared Wednesday night after audience members began yelling back at Mayor Karen Goh and other city council members over the proposed budget for the Fiscal Year 2021-22.

The Bakersfield City Council is set to consider a $683.2 million proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. The council voted 6-0 with, with Councilman Ken Weir absent, to approve the budget.

The approved budget includes a $13.4 million increase to the Bakersfield Police Department, which will help fund the addition of 28 new sworn police positions and 17 new civilian police positions. This is what sparked outrage from members of a grassroots movement known as the "People's Budget Bako".

After several public comments in support of the budget, members of the "People's Budgets Bako" called for city council to reject the proposed budget and adopt their proposed budget.

While members of the "People's Budgets Bako" spoke, several members of the audience cheered or called out from the gallery. In response, Mayor Goh warned the audience that comments from the gallery were not allowed during the public comment, only from the speaker at the podium. Despite Mayor Goh's warnings, the audience continued to speak out during the public comment section.

It was at that point Mayor Goh called for a short recess and cleared the room of all audience members. After that, one person was allowed into the room at a time to speak during the remainder of the public comment portion.

31 individuals were in attendance in opposition to the city's proposed budget.

After public comment ended, those who spoke in opposition of the city's budget continued to return to the podium on several other issues. On the topic of water rates for the City of Bakersfield, several members of the group said the issue fell in line with their cause and their budget concerns. Each member was reminded by Mayor Goh to remain on topic, with some being removed from the podium after several warnings.