As part of its annual budget process, which wraps up in late November, the city council discussed a proposal, backed by a majority of the council, to create a new office of immigrant and refugee affairs that would answer directly to Mayor Mike McGinn. The new office, which would cost $218,000, would include two new staffers.

Additionally, the council discussed a proposal to restore funding McGinn proposed cutting that currently funds a half-time staffer for each of five city commissions: The women's commission, the human rights commission, the immigrant and refugee commission, the people with disabilities commission, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender commission.

Together, the two budget adds would increase the city's budget by $270,000.

Council president Richard Conlin, who was not among the five sponsors of the budget "green sheet" (a sheet, not actually green, that details council members' suggested changes to the mayor's budget) proposing the new spends, expressed skepticism about the need for more staffers in the commissions. "Staffing commissions is important, [but] I have a hard time getting my arms around the idea that it takes 20 hours a week to staff a commission," Conlin said. "I'm just wondering whether this is actually the best use of our funds."

In response, council member Mike O'Brien brought up the example of the city planning commission, which has two staffers and "weigh[s] in on every policy decision that has to do with planning."

Conlin also questioned whether a separate office for immigrants and refugees---as opposed to integrating immigrant and refugee needs into other city departments and offices---will be the best way to serve their needs.
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