Increased Funding For Pedestrian Safety, Police Oversight Board In Latest City Budget Draft
Projects initially left out of the Cincinnati budget are back on the table after negotiations in the Budget and Finance Committee Monday. Council members approved plans to prioritize pedestrian safety, as well as increase funding for the city's police oversight board.
City administrators say they identified about $1.2 million in the operating budget, and $1 million in the capital budget, that could still be allocated.
Committee members agreed to use $500,000 for pedestrian safety, adding to the $754,000 already allocated in the city manager's proposed budget.
Interim Council Member Steve Goodin says it's the number one topic of constituent complaints.
"Every neighborhood we go to we hear about the same problem intersections, lack of proper [road] grading, etc.," Goodin said.
The city manager's budget proposal also includes $400,000 for "street calming" with things like street humps, a program that hasn't been funded since fiscal year 2018.
Another $500,000 is slated for the Warsaw Avenue Creative Campus, where a youth orchestra is housed in East Price Hill. Council Member Betsy Sundermann says the project is $3 million short the total funding needed.
Several council members expressed support for the Citizen Complaint Authority's request for nearly $500,000 to hire four new staff members. The police oversight board has a backlog of more than a hundred cases.
Assistant City Manager Christopher Bigham says the administration is suggesting a $250,000 allocation for two new staff members.
"Then in six months we would do an assessment," Bigham said. "We would see if the other two staff would be necessary."
The committee agreed to the reduced increase. CCA Director Gabe Davis has said new staff members are needed not just for the case backlog. Davis says the CCA is supposed to be doing more data and pattern analysis as well as community engagement.
Negotiations also revived two projects left out of the initial budget draft. Members agreed to use $500,000 for a new Playhouse in the Park facility already under construction. And the domestic violence response program DVERT, a project from the nonprofit Women Helping Women, is slated to get its full $250,000 request.
Other projects with initial approval Monday:
- $100,000 for The Children's Home to support a job readiness workforce development program
- $75,000 for a Black and Brown Artist Fund
- $100,000 for the African American Chamber of Commerce (in addition to $325,000 already in the budget draft)
- $20,000 for two "hackathons" – competitive events to find deficiencies in the city and ways to save the city money and resources
The committee also agreed to a motion from David Mann requesting the city only implement the first year of its proposed five-year water rate increase plan.
Council members will debate how to fund dozens of other budget requests at next week's committee meeting. The final budget is scheduled to be approved June 23.