Mayor's 2018 budget roll out includes $601 million for public safety
Mayor Andrew Ginther rolled out his 2018 budget on Tuesday at the Driving Park Recreation Center on the east side. The mayor said his administration is laser focused on creating "Opportunity Neighborhoods" that invest in the safety and health of people who live there.
The proposal is to spend $890.6 million. "This is a sound and balanced proposal," said Ginther. About two thirds of the budget, $601 million goes to public safety. It includes money for 70 new police recruits and 80 new fire recruits, and continued implementation of body-worn cameras.
Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said she was relieved to hear two recruit classes will help replace retiring officers. But Jacobs thinks additional officers need to be phased in to meet the increasing demand on their time and forces.
"We are not keeping up with the population growth that is for sure. Our population of officers is staying about the same but population of the city is growing exponentially and is expected to grow even more," said Jacobs.
The mayor said he is putting $2 million more money for overtime. But Jacobs said more officers are declining to put in the extra hours.
"We find more and more officers are trying to find more balance in their lives and they don’t sign up for some of our big events, we are using officers from other agencies to staff. Every time you are in your uniform you are subjecting yourself to criticism and scrutiny and complaints. With the criticism that is out there I think they will consider how much they will put themselves out there. I would hate to get to the point where we have to mandate officers to work overtime on a regular basis. it is not a desirable situation," said Jacobs.
"This budget represents my ongoing commitment and the value we place on continued investment in Columbus neighborhoods and public safety," said Ginther.
"Two thirds of the residents in this city are doing well, but a third of our neighbors still are not sharing in the success story that is Columbus."
The mayor said they are working on safety and health initiatives to prevent violent gang and drug-related crimes and opiate addiction. "There is a million-dollar new commitment to fund the Franklin County Opiate Action Plan.
We know that this opiate crisis has created more desperate people on the street which has also contributed to some of the safety issues," Ginther said.
Columbus City Council will now hold budget hearings and host hearings for public comment. The final budget will be voted on toward the end of January or first of February.