COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Mayor Andrew Ginther presented his $890.6 million proposed 2018 general fund budget on Tuesday.
He said his proposal reflects his priorities for neighborhood development, diversity and safety. About two-thirds of the budget or $601.7 million is allocated for public safety, which includes fire and police.
“It costs a lot because we’re asking an awful lot of our first responders,” said Police Chief Kim Jacobs.
The proposed budget supports 70 new police officer recruits for next year. Chief Jacobs said that’s not enough.
“We are now in charge of handling opiate repsonses, addictions. We are now in charge of handling practically all first response to all mentally ill. It’s a huge problem in our community. We are doing a multitude of things where there’s nobody else to respond,” she said. “We’ve increased the number of things that we’ve asked officers to do and to respond to and at the same time asked them to be more engaging, which takes time.”
Chief Jacobs said the number of officers on staff isn’t keeping pace with population growth.
“I truly believe we need to start making plans now for growth,” she said. “The mayor would like to see our diversity numbers double. Well, we have to hire and we have to hire and we have to hire. We are maybe keeping up with retirements.”
“Then, enhancing just the traditional calls for service in our neighborhoods, with this proactive and engaging community policing effort,” he said.
The proposed budget also includes continuing to equip officers with body cameras and 80 new fire recruits.
“Budgets really reflect your values and this budget very clearly outlines that neighborhoods are a top priority and an incredible, important value to us, public safety and continuing to invest in the quality of life for our neighborhoods, especially for our youngest residents,” said Mayor Ginther.
He said they’re also committed to supporting the Franklin County Opiate Action Plan.
“To really go after this in a multi-pronged approach with law enforcement, focus on prevention, education and expansion into treatment and so the city will be investing a million dollars to that,” he said.
Here are some more bullet points from the proposed budget, highlighted by Director of Finance Joe Lombardi:
- Support of the Smart Columbus team as they implement the building blocks for using transportation, powered by holistic solutions and integrated data, to give Columbus residents access to opportunities that empower them to live their best lives.
- $601.7 million for Public Safety that includes funding for the Mayor’s Comprehensive Neighborhood Safety Strategy; 70 new police recruits and 80 new fire recruits; continued implementation of body-worn cameras.
- $220,000 in conjunction with Franklin County Juvenile Court to expand Columbus Recreation and Parks Department Job Readiness Program, in addition to $600,000 for other youth jobs programs through Recreation and Parks.
- $7 million in the Department of Neighborhoods to support 19 area commissions, My Brother’s Keeper, the New American Initiative, the creation of the New American Leadership Academy and our comprehensive neighborhood planning efforts in Linden and the Hilltop.
- Funding for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the amount of over $1.3 million will continue to support supplier diversity outreach, the work of the Columbus Recruitment Taskforce and implementation of the city’s workforce diversity strategy.
- Continued funding for the Columbus Women’s Commission will be used to dismantle barriers and improve the economic position of women with initiatives like The Columbus Commitment: Achieving Pay Equity.
- Maintain funding for CelebrateOne, dedicated to cutting infant mortality by 40 percent and racial disparity in half by 2020.
- $4.5 million for the Department of Education for Early Start Columbus funding to support the number of pre-kindergarten classroom slots and increase the quality of the programs Columbus children attend.
- Continued investment in Department of Development’s housing and business incentive portfolio that invests in Columbus neighborhoods by creating more jobs and driving long-term stability for the City of Columbus.
- Support for a comprehensive review of city operations.
- Continuing to reach the goal of a $75 million balance in rainy day fund by year-end 2018, and the new goal of $80 million by the end of 2020.
City council will hold budget hearings and host public comment forums for the proposed budget. The budget is typically adopted at the end of January or the first of February.