Nov 15, 2023 - News

Ginther's 2024 budget calls for more police

Illustration of Columbus City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Fresh off re-election to a third term, Mayor Andrew Ginther rolled out a 2024 budget proposing a record level of city spending.

Why it matters: The city general fund, supported primarily by your income and property taxes, pays for essential services including public safety and infrastructure.

State of play: The mayor's budget proposal was released days after Ginther defeated progressive Joe Motil, whose campaign highlighting socioeconomic inequalities across town earned him 36% of the vote.

  • Ginther's list of "strategic priorities" seems to acknowledge that message, referring to Columbus as a "city on the rise" where "not everyone is sharing in our success."

By the numbers: The proposed general fund budget of $1.19 billion would be the largest in city history, edging out last year's budget by around $32 million.

Three budget items we're watching:

🚓 More police funding. Ginther wants to hire more officers as Columbus continues to deal with elevated rates of violent crime and vehicle thefts.

  • His goal is to recruit three new officer classes to provide a net increase of around 60 cops by the end of 2024.
  • The budget also proposes funding for more employees in the mayor's new Office of Violence Prevention.

💵 No increase for Right Response. Ginther would spend $1.2 million toward the Right Response program that sends social workers to certain emergency calls rather than law enforcement.

  • That's the same amount as allocated in 2023 and is less than half of what's proposed for the police department's bike patrol.
  • A coalition of faith and advocacy groups making up the Columbus Safety Collective is pushing for greater investment in and embrace of this program.

🏡 Housing at the forefront. The mayor wants 11 new development department workers focused solely on affordable housing initiatives, plus $4.5 million to "support homeless prevention."

  • The city plans to emphasize density and height with new housing projects as it undergoes a zoning code rewrite in 2024, Ginther previously told Axios.

Meanwhile, more funding is proposed toward firefighter recruitment, the city's tree plan, public parks and street maintenance.

What's next: City Council will host public hearings over the coming months and vote for an amended plan by February.


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