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Columbus, OH 43215


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Council 2021 Budget Amendments Turns Community Feedback into Legislative Priorities

$40 Million in Amendments Focuses on Reimagining Safety, COVID Recovery, Uplifting Families and Supporting the Small Business Community

2020 City Council Group

[COLUMBUS-OH] As Columbus continues to recover from the crises caused by COVID-19 and the need to Reimagine Public Safety, Council members today outlined their priorities for the 2021 General Fund Budget.  Members presented a collection of amendments prioritizing the creation of an Alternative Crisis Response operation and advances funds to increase COVID-19 response and recovery, supports families, stabilizes small businesses and reimagines safety.

“My top priority is establishing a successful alternative crisis response operation,” said Council President Shannon G. Hardin. “This budget will scale effective teams that get people care rather than handcuffs, as well as piloting trained civilian response teams for non-violent, non-threatening instances.” 

The amendments allow Council to work with the administration to deliver high-quality neighborhood services and provide bold strategic investments to improve the quality of life for every resident. The 2021 Operating Budget is estimated at more than $970 million. 

“My goal as finance chair is to make the budget open and accessible to residents so that we can incorporate robust feedback into our deliberations,” said President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown. “We doubled the number of hearings this year with half focused specifically on reimagining public safety to help us respond to this critical issue. In total, we held more than 22 hours of public discussion to help us finalize a budget that supports the needs of every resident and every neighborhood in our city.

Council’s amendments are contained within the following pillars:

COVID Response and Recovery. Provide $10 million in targeted funding to ensure the public health of residents and City operations are fully functional. This means widespread COVID-19 education and vaccination.

Supporting Families. The impact of the pandemic hit working-class families hard. Council allocated $10 million in resources to help families in need access housing, broadband access, utility and financial assistance.

Stabilizing the Small Business Community. Last year, Council provided millions of dollars in grants to local small businesses to help them navigate the fiscal impact of COVID-19. Council will continue this effort with $10 million in funding.

Reimagining Safety. Council has dedicated $10 million in resources to invest in the reimagine safety initiative. This includes community-based, anti-violence efforts and investing in alternative crisis response models.  The goal is to build trust and accountability in the City’s public safety forces.


The Councilmembers also spoke candidly about their committee-based priorities included in the budget. Each priority was developed using community feedback, industry research and data. 

  •     President Shannon Hardin: Create an Alternative Crisis Response operation to ensure residents receive the appropriate and necessary care during mental or behavioral health crises and traumatic events.
  •     President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown: Fund financial empowerment initiatives and programs that support economic stability and financial freedom for women and families, particularly women of color who continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID19 and wage disparities.
  •     Councilmember Mitchell J. Brown: Allocate funding that supports prosperity and upward mobility amongst seniors and at-risk youth. Fund workforce development programs that reduce barriers for residents reentering society from incarceration. 
  •     Councilmember Rob Dorans: Provide funding for initiatives that expand workforce development and training opportunities that stabilize families and provide jobs. Expand utility assistance programs to support family struggle to pay bills during the pandemic.
  •     Councilmember Shayla Favor: Develop and fund initiatives that support the equitable treatment for residents seeking to attain, remain and own safe, affordable housing. Direct funding toward cultural events and programming that support racial equity.
  •     Councilmember Emmanuel Remy: Support economic employment programs that directly impact neighborhoods through the Cleaner Columbus Employment program. Investment in New American, Immigrant and Refugee employment programs.
  •     Councilmember Priscilla Tyson: Support and fund programs and initiatives that align with the Local Food Action Plan to reduce food insecurity. Continue to support the implementation of the recommendations from the Commission on Black Girls report.

“Last year was an exceptionally challenging year for so many, making the priorities we establish in this budget more important than ever,” said Pro Tem Brown. “We are meeting those challenges head-on with targeted support for families, small businesses, and the safety of every resident in our city.”

Council advanced a specific amendment to create a $10 million fund for reimagining safety reforms, increased officer training and support the creation of the Alternative Crisis Response Office. A portion of the funding, $2.5 million, would come from the delay of the proposed June 2021 Police Recruit Class. This amendment passed with a 5-2 vote.

Delaying the June class amounts to a $2.5 million dollar savings, which will be directed towards aligned efforts including anti-violence youth intervention, medical training and first aid equipment for officers to implement Andre’s Law, and youth workforce development. Officers from a June class would not have been on the street until the beginning of 2022. Councilmembers voiced openness to increasing future class sizes after the city receives the audit and begins implementing recommended changes. 

Council will conduct a final vote on the budget ordinances at the February 22, 2021, Council meeting and send the final package to Mayor Ginther for his signature.

"2020 was a year of reckoning in Columbus," said Council President Shannon G. Hardin. "We wrestled with civil unrest and financial hardships while grappling with a global pandemic. Our city was hit hard, and now is the time to step-up for families in our community to ensure our new normal is equity, justice and safety for all."