Aug 11, 2023 - Politics

Councilman will debate People's Budget Cleveland in September

Organizer Jonathan Welle speaks at a PB Cle rally in January, dressed in winter gear on the steps of Cleveland City Hall

PB Cle organizer Jonathan Welle at a City Hall rally in January. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

Now that Issue 1 is in the rearview, Clevelanders can expect to be inundated with arguments over the People's Budget Cleveland initiative before it appears on November ballots.

Driving the news: A debate on the issue is scheduled for Sept. 26, featuring Cleveland Councilman Kris Harsh, the most outspoken opponent, arguing against the measure and PB Cle representatives arguing for it.

Catch up quick: The People's Budget charter amendment proposes setting aside 2% of the city's general fund for projects submitted and voted on by residents in a process known as participatory budgeting.

  • Using the most recent budget, 2% equals approximately $14 million.

State of play: Harsh and the majority of City Council, the Bibb administration and organized labor groups are unified in opposition, believing PB would jeopardize expenditures for payroll and human services.

What they're saying: In a June column, Harsh accused PB Cle organizers of pursuing the amendment to enrich themselves and has called the measure an "activist tax."

The other side: PB Cle's Jonathan Welle noted in a response that 96% of the $14 million allocated to PB would go to implementing projects, only 4% would be needed for administrative costs.

  • "For the record," Welle wrote, "my organization, PB Cle, receives zero dollars and has no role in directing spending."

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