Cincy Official: City Needs To Better Fund Climate Change Initiatives
Cincinnati's Office of Environment and Sustainability says the city is already feeling the effects of climate change, and funding needs to be increased. Director Michael Forrester is one of many department heads asking for a budget increase in the next fiscal year.
Forrester told the Budget and Finance Committee Monday that Cincinnati's neighborhoods are not equally prepared to deal with the effects of climate change.
"OES would advocate that we as a city take a proactive position and work to address some of the climate challenges that our disenfranchised populations will be facing."
Forrester says urban tree cover is one difference between neighborhoods, and one solution to keep temperatures down.
Last year's global average surface temperature tied with 2016 as the warmest on record, according to NASA. Forrester says across the city, infrastructure was not designed to withstand a hotter and wetter climate.
The office is currently funded for 3.5 full-time employees, or FTEs.
"We've been successful in attracting external funding to support an additional 7.5 FTEs," Forrester says. "This is great, but it's also very problematic because those funding sources are stop/start."
Forrester says the department actually generates revenue for the city through the recycling program and other initiatives. But that revenue goes to the general fund, and Forrester wants it to be re-invested back into OES.
"We can essentially go bigger, faster, and we can implement technologies that generate additional cost savings," he said. "So when you look at LED lightbulbs, that's two-thirds less energy that you're not paying for."
Forrester says they're expecting even more cost savings soon with the Cincinnati Solar Project. Next month the city will break ground on an array of over a thousand acres of solar panels in Highland County. Once complete, it will provide 25% of energy for Cincinnati government.
Council members are expected to vote on their budget priorities at next week's Budget and Finance Committee meeting. The budget must be finalized by the end of June for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
See the full OES budget presentation below: