Columbus council set to pass Ginther budget that increases spending

The Columbus City Council is expected to vote Monday on a $1.03 billion general fund budget for 2020 that still showed Mayor Andrew J. Ginther’s proposal introduced last November survived intact.

This budget, largely paid for by city income taxes, supports 5,561 full-time equivalent employees for this year.

Just under $662.5 million, or 64%, would go to the Department of Public Safety, $354.2 million to the Police Division and another $273.5 million to the Fire Division.

The police budget for 2022 is a decrease of $26.5 million from 2021, a decrease of about 7%, which officials say is largely due to employee retirement incentives and to the important legal settlements agreed to by the city council to settle lawsuits related to the officer shootings. . The number of uniformed police will decrease by 33, to 1,936, while the number of firefighters is expected to increase by 35 to 1,637.

The city’s utility garbage collection operation will increase by $17.7 million year over year, with $16 million budgeted for the purchase of garbage collection equipment, such as the city’s yellow garbage collection trucks, in 2022 as a one-time expense from the general fund.

The Mayor’s office staff will include 52 employees at a cost of $17.1 million, an increase of 14 employees from 2020. The Mayor’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and CelebrateOne, a program to reduce premature births and eliminate sleep-related infant deaths, account for the overall increase.

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The Dispatch reported in November that while the 2022 budget would be the biggest spending plan in city history, it will go ahead despite a record year-over-year loss of 6.3% in revenue from the income tax, which now accounts for almost 80% of the city. general recipes. It’s the biggest drop in income tax revenue since the city introduced the tax in 1948.

Ginther offered to continue spending by tapping into the nearly $50.9 million special reserve fund, part of a $64 million windfall he received in late 2020 from the Bureau of Workers Compensation of the Ohio for a rebate to help employers.

The drop in cash reserve spending, also one of the largest in the city’s recent history, “will enable the continuation of central city services and safety, affordable housing and neighborhoods,” said city ​​budget director Joe Lombardi in November.

If revenues don’t rebound by 2023, the city will have fewer options.

Columbus’ next line of fiscal defense for 2023 would be its “rainy day fund,” which is expected to hold $89.6 million at the end of 2022 after another $1 million deposit this year, the budget says. . Historically, this fund has only been used “in times of extreme fiscal distress and often during a long-term systemic downturn,” City Auditor Megan Kilgore told The Dispatch in November.

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