Mar 6, 2024 - News

What's in Columbus' billion-dollar 2024 budget

Illustration of Columbus City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

A record-setting Columbus operating budget will pay to hire more police officers, set up shelters during extreme weather and fund other local priorities like infant health programs in the year ahead.

Why it matters: The budget, passed by City Council on Monday, features $1.2 billion in general fund spending, paid for mostly by residents' income and property taxes.

  • The increase of around $50 million from last year's budget stems partly from a projected jump of 29% in property tax collections thanks to rising property appraisal values.

Zoom in: City Council passed $18.5 million in amendments to Mayor Andrew Ginther's budget proposal to promote "equity in our work as a city," finance chair Nicholas Bankston said.

What they're saying: "These investments will further strengthen Columbus neighborhoods while lifting up our fellow neighbors who've been left out and left behind by the Columbus success story," Mayor Ginther said in a statement to Axios.

  • "We are in a special moment in our city's history, and by making the right decisions now, we will ensure a better quality of life for all our residents and build an economic juggernaut for future generations."
Photo illustration of Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther with lines radiating from him.
City Council offered numerous amendments to Ginther's 2024 operating budget proposal. Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Follow the money: The budget's largest chunk is $390 million for the Columbus Division of Police, a 5% increase from last year that will fund three new officer classes.

The intrigue: The city is also using $840,000 for ShotSpotter, a controversial gunfire detection program used in the Hilltop, Linden, South Side and Near East Side neighborhoods.

  • Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson recently ditched the technology and has called it "unreliable and overly susceptible to human error," while Ginther's budget views the service as "effective in identifying and reducing response times to gunfire."

Between the lines: The city will spend comparatively less ($34 million) on the Department of Development overseeing housing and economic development programs than it will on policing.

  • But Ginther did budget for 11 employees working on affordable housing programs, $4.5 million supporting homeless prevention, and $400,000 to fund shelters during power outages, heat waves and winter storms.
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