After an era of citywide business closures, strained family finances and heartbreaking loss due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cincinnati City Council managed to pass a new budget that avoids layoffs and puts money toward resources that residents have been asking for.
Cincinnati City Council approved the $1.5 billion 2022-2023 budget Wednesday night, which includes boosts for the Citizen Complaint Authority and street safety measures. The new budget has a 13.8% increase over the previous year and is buttressed by federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, which helped the city avoid layoffs in the coming fiscal period.
The city's police and fire departments both are getting bumps in the FY22 budget. Police goes from from $151,527,630 to $166,003,390, a 9.6% increase. Likewise, the fire department sees an 11.1% gain, going from $121,314,470 to $134,799,970.
In addition, both departments will increase funds for recruiting. From the budget:
The FY 2022-2023 Recommended Biennial Budget includes a 53 member Police recruit class slated to start in July 2021. A 53 member Police recruit class is also slated to start in July 2022. 43 members of each of these recruit classes will be reimbursed from a Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Grant.
Additionally, the Recommended FY 2022 Budget includes a 30 member Police recruit class for lateral transfers that will begin in September 2021. Lateral transfers are officers currently employed by other Ohio law enforcement agencies.
The Fire Department has a 40 member recruit class beginning in June 2021. A second 40 member recruit class is slated to start in February 2022. While there are no grant funds available at this time for the Fire recruit classes, the department has applied for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. The next round of grant awards will be announced in the Fall of 2021.
The Citizen Complaint Authority will see a significant budget increase as the agency deals with a backlog of cases, including complaints about police violence that came in the wake of protests after the 2020 murder of George Floyd.
In a move that undoubtedly is making residents and activists alike happy, Cincinnati's new budget calls for well over $1 million for pedestrian safety and traffic calming measures. That's up from about $500,000 currently.
Greater Cincinnati Water Works will raise water rates 3.75% in FY22, followed by an increase of 5.55% for FY23, FY24, FY25 and FY26. The money, Greater Cincinnati Water Director Cathy Bailey had told the council, would be used to replace dangerous lead pipelines.
The new budget will start July 1. Cincinnati City Council has begun its recess for the summer.