Ginther’s bud­get up about 3.7%

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Rick Rouan


Colum­bus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther rolled out a spend­ing plan Tues­day that in­cludes money to hire more fire­fight­ers, change po­lice tac­tics and help peo­ple who are ad­dicted to opi­ates in 2018.

The $890.6 mil­lion gen­eral fund bud­get pro­posal is about 3.7 per­cent more than the city ex­pects to spend this year.

Ginther’s sec­ond bud­get as mayor is largely a con­tin­u­a­tion of last year’s. In­come-tax col­lec­tions, the city’s largest rev­enue source, are pro­jected to end

the year up about 3.2 per­cent, and Au­di­tor Hugh J. Dor­rian ex­pects that growth to slow next year.

That left lit­tle room for ex­pan­sion in the 2018 bud­get, which still re­quires ap­proval by the Colum­bus City Coun­cil. The coun­cil will con­sider amend­ments and vote on the bud­get early next year.

“Our val­ues and our pri­or­i­ties are neigh­bor­hoods, pub­lic safety, op­por­tu­nity in neigh­bor­hoods in par­tic­u­lar, the health and well-be­ing and qual­ity of life in our neigh­bor­hoods,” Ginther said. “I’m proud of this bud­get. I’m proud of the in­vest­ments we made in some new ini­tia­tives.”

Pub­lic Safety still con­sumes the largest por­tion of the city’s bud­get, but it also is where Ginther high­lighted the most changes. The $601.7 mil­lion in Ginther’s bud­get for po­lice, fire and other parts of the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety make up about two-thirds of the gen­eral fund. That’s about $20 mil­lion more — or 3.5 per­cent higher — than what the city will spend on Pub­lic Safety in 2017.

That in­cludes money for two classes of fire­fighter and po­lice of­fi­cer re­cruits. The city plans

Ex­pen­di­ture Po­lice Fire Gov­ern­men­tal Ser­vices* Refuse col­lec­tion Pub­lic Ser­vice Re­cre­ation and Parks Mu­nic­i­pal court judges and clerk De­vel­op­ment* Health Other safety Re­serve pay­ments Ba­sic city ser­vices fund To­tal Rainy-day fund to­tal $73.9 mil­lion $75.9 mil­lion * Gov­ern­men­tal Ser­vices and De­vel­op­ment: The city al­lo­cates money for in­cen­tive pay­ments for com­pa­nies that cre­ate jobs to Gov­ern­men­tal Ser­vices in­stead of De­vel­op­ment. That makes it look as if De­vel­op­ment was cut back while Gov­ern­ment Ser­vices gained. to hire 70 po­lice of­fi­cers next year, but that will only keep up with ex­pected re­tire­ments in 2018. By the end of 2018, the Colum­bus Po­lice Di­vi­sion will have 1,918 staff mem­bers, the same as this year.

Colum­bus will add more fire­fight­ers next year, though. The Di­vi­sion of Fire will have two classes, to­tal­ing 80 re­cruits. That’s 30 ad­di­tional fire­fight­ers af­ter 50 ex­pected re­tire­ments.

Fire Chief Kevin O’Con­nor said the ad­di­tional fire­fight­ers will help with the di­vi­sion’s bur­geon­ing over­time costs, but it won’t solve the prob­lem en­tirely as the city opens more fire­houses. The di­vi­sion's over­time is pro­jected to cost about $10.5 mil­lion this year, about $3.6 mil­lion more than was bud­geted.

O’Con­nor said the di­vi­sion needs an­other 200 fire­fight­ers to have a full staff. By the end of next year, the Fire Di­vi­sion should have 1,608 staff mem­bers.

Ginther said in a news con­fer­ence last week that he ex­pects Pub­lic Safety Di­rec­tor Ned Pet­tus to de­velop a plan to dou­ble mi­nor­ity rep­re­sen­ta­tion in both the po­lice and fire di­vi­sions in the next 10 years.

Last week, Ginther rolled out a new pub­lic safety plan that aims to im­prove the re­la­tion­ship be­tween po­lice and the black com­mu­nity and to curb a grow­ing num­ber of homi­cides in the city.

His bud­get pro­posal in­cludes fund­ing for that plan, in­clud­ing $2 mil­lion to pay of­fi­cers over­time to cover in­creased bike and foot pa­trols by uni­formed of­fi­cers. It elim­i­nates $275,000 ear­marked last year for the con­tro­ver­sial com­mu­nity safety ini­tia­tive that has drawn pro­test­ers to City Hall.

Ginther’s bud­get shows a smaller fund­ing pool for the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, which was es­tab­lished in 2014. That depart­ment of­fers fund­ing to pre-kinder­garten providers to turn par­tial-day slots into full-day.

The pro­posal re­duces the depart­ment’s bud­get from $6.1 mil­lion in 2017 to $4.5 mil­lion in 2018. That in­cludes a $1.2 mil­lion re­duc­tion in city fund­ing for the Early Start Colum­bus pro­gram to put more 4-year-olds in pre-kinder­garten classes. The city had a goal of putting 1,000 4-yearolds in classes this year, but

next year’s goal will be 900. State and fed­eral fund­ing also are used for that pro­gram.

Lom­bardi said the Early Starts pro­gram will con­tinue to re­ceive full fund­ing, but the city’s 2018 bud­get only in­cludes money for three quar­ters. The city is lin­ing up the fund­ing with the school year, he said, and will pay for the fourth quar­ter in the 2019 bud­get.

Ginther's bud­get also in­cludes $1 mil­lion that the city would set aside to deal with opi­ate ad­dic­tion. That plan would fo­cus on pre­ven­tion and ed­u­ca­tion and ex­pand­ing treat­ment, Ginther said, and the city will pur­sue ad­di­tional funds from the pri­vate sec­tor and the state and fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Four peo­ple would be hired in the Depart­ment of Health to pro­vide med­i­ca­tion-as­sisted treat­ment and in­ten­sive sub­stance-abuse ther­apy to opi­ate ad­dicts.

“I’m sick and tired of hear­ing state and fed­eral lead­ers talk about the need for an ev­i­dence-based, com­pre­hen­sive com­mu­nity plan they can in­vest in,” he said. “They have one here. It’s time for the state and fed­eral gov­ern­ment to step up and fund this plan so we can deal with this epi­demic.”

Colum­bus plans to set aside about $2 mil­lion next year for its rainy-day fund, which should have about $76 mil­lion by the end of 2018. The city has a goal of de­posit­ing $80 mil­lion into that fund by 2020.



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