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Mayor Ginther Proposes $1 Billion Infrastructure Budget

Nick Evans
Mayor Ginther flanked by City Councilmembers unveiling his capital improvement budget

Mayor Andrew Ginther wants to spend more than a billion dollars on infrastructure projects in 2018. 

Ginther, who unveiled the proposed capital improvement budget on Wednesday, emphasized projects to improve parks and community centers, with the bulk of investment going to more traditional infrastructure.

The majority of the budget will be allocated to sewer and water systems, and Ginther is touting more money for roads.

“This year we are also spending more money than ever before on repaving roadways: $39 million dollars—up from $32 million last year," Ginther said. “This is particularly important because so many streets were damaged with potholes this winter."

Leading Ginther’s community-facing initiatives is the new, $20 million Linden Recreation Center. He explains it will be one of 11 centers for opportunity, which offer services like job placement and food assistance.

“Not all of our centers for opportunity will need complete rebuilds, but we all know it’s needed in Linden,” he says.

The Linden center constitutes the largest line item in the Parks and Recreation budget.

Under Ginther’s proposal, the city will also invest in technology aimed at improving safety.

"We are proposing a million dollars for a gunfire detection system,” Ginther said. “Other cities like Oakland and Cincinnati have found that over 80 percent—think about this for a second—over 80 percent of gunshots are not reported."

Cincinnati launched its ShotSpotterprogram in August 2017. The technology, which covers a three-square-mile area, uses sensors on rooftops and street lights to listen for gunfire and notify police. Cincinnati Police say they're pleased so far with the initial results of the program.

Columbus City Council expects to vote on Ginther's proposals at the end of April, and in the meantime, the members will be holding public hearings to discuss the budget. The first one is 10 a.m. Saturday, April 7, at the Far East Community Center.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.