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Columbus Leaders Highlight Spending Priorities in 2022 Operating Budget

Columbus City Hall
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Columbus city leaders on Monday highlighted more than $1 billion in spending priorities in the city's 2022 operating budget. Leaders say that's the largest spending plan ever proposed for the city.

“The City of Columbus is on strong financial footing,” said Mayor Andrew Ginther.

“We have not been without challenges – financially and otherwise – but, with care and precision, we have protected meaningful programs, avoided crippling cuts, and are actually investing more in city services and our residents than we ever have before,” said Ginther.

Mayor Ginther highlighted the following investments as part of his budget priorities:

  • More than $660 million to support the Department of Public Safety, including additional police and fire recruit classes as well as funding to implement the updated Comprehensive Neighborhood Safety Strategy
  • More than $2 million for programming and operating expenses at the Hilltop Early Learning Center
  • Additional staffing and services to expand support for the Department of Development’s Small Business Program
  • $5 million in Human Services Grants for social services organizations that provide vital support for vulnerable residents and neighborhoods
  • Funding to keep community centers open six days per week and expanding Recreation and Parks staff to better support summer programming and events
  • Significant investments in refuse vehicles and equipment to continue to counter illegal dumping and help keep Columbus neighborhoods clean and vibrant
  • More than $10 million for Sustainable Columbus, including energy and water efficiency in Opportunity Neighborhoods, a clean-energy workforce program, and a Green Fund to support energy sustainability efforts among residents and nonprofits

The mayor said the budget addresses disparities that were laid bare by the pandemic.
"It's about equity. It's about opportunity. It's about upward mobility, growing the Winner's Circle of Success here in Columbus,"said Ginthr.

Jennifer Gallagher, director of the city's Department of Public Service, said that in 2020, as more Columbus residents worked or attended school from home, residential trash collection increased by nearly 25 percent.

And, she said, Columbus is on pace to grow to more than 1 million residents by 2027.

"More households will need weekly trash pickup. Our refuse fleet must be ready to service them while continuing to meet today's trash collection needs," said Gallagher.

The city is also set to receive nearly $140 million in federal stimulus dollars, which will go toward affordable housing, rental assistance, child care, and more.

The budget can be viewed in its entirety at columbus.gov/2022budget.

Matthew Rand is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides with Ann Fisher.