COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Mayor Andrew Ginther released his first operating budget as Mayor of Columbus Monday.
The budget calls for $869.5 million in general fund operating expenses, The budget proposal includes a $576.9 million public safety budget, an increase of nearly $20 million over 2016. The total 2016 operating budget was $834.8 million.
“The future of the city looks bright which makes it possible for us to focus on the top three priorities of my administration: neighborhoods, neighborhoods, neighborhoods,” said Mayor Ginther. “This budget represents fulfillment of these strategic priorities while keeping our city financially sound.”
In an organizational change proposed in the budget, the city’s Equal Business Opportunity Commission Office will be replaced by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
The Mayor highlighted funds for many departments specifically related to neighborhood development:
- $4.63 million for the newly-formed Department of Neighborhoods, including funds for office space in the Point of Pride building in Linden.
- $31.6 million to continue to help improve the health of families, prepare for emergencies and monitor community health.
- Continued support of social services such as the Community Shelter Board with new money to alleviate homelessness ($167,000 to assist pregnant women, $125,000 for non-VA eligible veterans,$117,000 for proactive street outreach to homeless, unsheltered individuals).
- $51.86 million for Recreation and Parks to maintain full-time operating hours at the city’s 29 community recreation centers, five athletic complexes, eight outdoor pools, 26 shelters and over 8,000 acres of parkland.
- $576.9 million to support the Department of Public Safety, an increase of almost $20 million over 2016, for personnel, non-lethal weapons, continued community mediation, implementation of body-worn cameras and funding for the Community Safety Initiative.
- $150,000 for naloxone (Narcan) for first responders in the fight against heroin overdoses.
- $770,000 for the newly created Land Redevelopment Division to repurpose vacant, abandoned and blighted residential and commercial structures in neighborhoods and return them to productive community assets.
- $4.7 million for early start opportunities with the goal of providing high-quality pre-K to 1,000 students by the end of 2017 – on the city’s way to universal pre-K for all four-year olds.
- $389,000 for after-school programs.
- $1.5 million for efforts of bringing diversity to recruitment in city offices and minority participation in contracts, including support for a disparity study led by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and The Ohio Municipalities Business conference that will be designed to bring together small, minority and female owned businesses with local municipalities from across the state of Ohio.
- $2.2 million for the Rainy Day Fund which keeps the city on track to restore the fund to $75 million by year-end 2017 and $1.5 million Basic City Services Fund to help offset any unexpected dips in revenue.
Columbus City Council will now hold budget hearings and hold hearings for public comment on the proposed budget.