Linden Neighborhood Conversation

Melanie Crabill
Director of Media Relations
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Kevin Kilbane
Director of Communications
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Media Advisory
News Date: September 14, 2020

City of Columbus Facing $41 Million Reduction in Revenue in 2020

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and Columbus City Auditor Megan Kilgore announced that the impacts of COVID-19 have drastically reduced revenue expectations for 2020. Ordinance 1436-2020 presented to City Council tonight reduces the city’s general fund by $41.5 million.

“The global pandemic presented the city with three crises: a health crisis, a human services crisis and an economic crisis,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “Because our revenue is so closely tied to income tax, the staggering unemployment rate has drastically reduced our revenue for 2020. As we work on our budget for 2021, we need to anticipate this lost revenue that may well continue into the next year.”

Since the virus was first introduced in Columbus in March, the city has been working to reduce spending by eliminating travel, delaying merit raises and imposing a hiring freeze on almost all positions. In addition, CARES Act dollars from the U.S. Treasury were able to offset expenses related to COVID-19 in many departments, especially Public Health. Through these strategies, the city was able to save roughly $40 million. The additional shortfall in the general fund will be made up by using the basic city services fund that currently has a balance of $20.8 million.

“We do not know the ultimate economic toll of COVID-19,” said City Auditor Megan Kilgore. “Many variables will impact tax revenues in the fourth quarter and beyond, including the spread of the virus, the duration of the pandemic and behavioral economics such as consumer fear.”

“The difficult reality we face is that during economic downturns city revenue takes a hit at the same time that people need assistance the most,” said President Pro Tempore and Finance Chair Elizabeth Brown. “Despite these challenges, we will continue focusing on providing city services and programs that support the needs of Columbus residents in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 health and economic crisis.”