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Mayor proposes 2023 public safety budget, gives last minute plea for $1.5 billion bond measure

Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins
Associated Press
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther made a plea to voters Monday, the day before the election, asking them to support the city’s $1.5 billion bond measures on the ballot Tuesday. He made the pitch alongside a 2023 budget proposal promising new and expanded public safety projects and more staff.

Ginther said the bond measures can’t pay for the increase in personnel he has planned in the budget proposal, but the bonds will support the city’s public safety team in other ways.

He wants to create the Office on Violence Prevention to act as a central office analyzing crime reduction efforts.

“This office will be the first of its kind in the state of Ohio, and one of only a handful of similar offices across the nation. It works by breaking down silos and serving as a centralized hub for coordinating our public safety and violence prevention efforts," Ginther said.

He promised 170 new police officers and 125 new firefighters for $10 million, seven new crime lab analysts to handle a backlog of criminal investigations and $3.5 million to expand operations of the social-work-driven Right Response Unit.

Ginther said that he'll introduce a full proposed budget to Columbus City Council soon.

“We're allocating substantial support for a broad range of public safety programs and initiatives, totaling more than $705 million, or about 62 percent of the operating budget,” he said.

He said the city's previous efforts to reduce violence in the city has paid off.

“While violent crime rose across the nation in the first half of 2022. It dropped in Columbus by roughly 28 percent," Ginther said.

But, he said, the city can do better.

Columbus voters will decide five bond issues totaling $1.5 billion during the election Tuesday. Issue 14 funds health, safety and infrastructure with $300 million, Issue 15 funds parks and recreation with $200 million, Issue 16 funds neighborhood development with $200 million, Issue 17 funds public service with $250 million and Issue 18 funds public utilities with $550 million.

Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News.