Columbus City Council today announced plans to add another $3.3 million to Mayor Andy Ginther's 2019 municipal budget proposal.
Last November, Ginther released his $912 million blueprint with a focus on public safety, diversity, and neighborhood development. Council member and finance committee chair Elizabeth Brown says the amendments build on the mayor's priorities.
"We are adding $100,000 to halt evictions and for a newly-established eviction-prevention fund," Elizabeth Brown said. "This is a priority for every member of council because evictions disrupt the lives of too many families every year and create a permanent mark on a resident's record. We know without stable housing, we cannot truly achieve economic security. We're also adding $75,000 to continue another year of helping pregnant women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, helping them have access to secure housing, employment, and health care. I am grateful to Mayor Ginther for his stated commitment that Columbus will lead the nation in support for children ages birth to 5. That's why we are adding $150,000 to expand an early childhood education study from just the Hilltop to the entire city."
Ginther's plan devotes $622.5 million toward public safety. A council amendment would add $168,500 for the police division's body-worn cameras. Council member and safety committee chair Mitch Brown says there are 1,200 cameras currently in use resulting in about 65,000 videos each month.
"The amendment I am proposing will allocate funding needed to provide an additional year of video maintenance and software development," Mitch Brown said. "But I want to be clear. While our population and tourism continues to grow and our police division has utilized new initiatives to confront violent crimes, our police personnel has remained mostly static. While working with an outside counsel. The mayor's Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission is expected to present recommendations this spring. I anticipate that among those recommendations will be the call to increase the number of officers in our police division. I will also seek available resources to provide funding to increase the number of officers within our division of police to ensure that as our population continues to grow, our law enforcement officers are able to deal with issues as they present themselves."
Council president Shannon Hardin says the budget reflects the voice of Columbus from hearings held not only after the mayor's budget plan but also discussions and forums with residents throughout 2018. Hardin says the budget priorities are job creation, strengthening neighborhoods, and creating pathways out of poverty. Council will approve a final operating budget this month.