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Mayor Andrew Ginther proposes $1.19 billion budget, adding up to 150 firefighters & police officers

Columbus City Hall
David Holm

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther proposed what he called the city's largest budget in history focusing on neighborhood affordability and safety.

On Thursday, Ginther announced a $1.19 billion budget proposal for 2024 at the main Columbus Metropolitan Library branch downtown. The mayor said it includes investments for neighborhood safety, affordable housing, summer and after-school youth programming and millions of dollars for the city's rainy day fund.

"It's a balanced budget too. Representing the third consecutive year, we prepared a general fund budget exceeding $1 billion, but know that larger budgets don't come at the expense of fiscal responsibility," Ginther said.

Ginther is coming off an Election Day victory on Tuesday securing another four years in office alongside a new nine-member city council and a levy for the library approved by voters. The mayor said the majority of the budget proposal includes over $700 million to fund three new police and fire recruit classes, adding up to 150 new officers and 150 new firefighters.

Ginther said a big focus will be put on the city's newest patrol zone, Zone 6.

"Zone 6 covers portions of Linden King-Lincoln Bronzeville, Mt. Vernon, East Gate, Milo Grogan and other neighborhoods that have experienced notable challenges related to safety and security in recent years," Ginther said.

Ginther repeated common slogans he's used to promote his agenda, saying "neighborhoods, neighborhoods, neighborhoods" are his three biggest priorities. He also said he wants Columbus to become the safest big city in America.

"But first, we must continue to equip our first responders with the tools and resources they need to do their jobs, protect our families, keep our city safe. Sixty-three percent of this budget, or $753 million, is specifically dedicated to improving neighborhood safety," Ginther said.

Columbus is seeing a spike in homicides this year, compared to 2022, which police attribute to a rise in homicides related to domestic violence. The city is also outpacing last year in the number of reported felonious assaults.

The budget proposal will get several public hearings until Columbus City Council votes on it in early 2024. Click here to view the full proposed budget.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.