A lot has changed at City Hall since January. We swore in a new mayor and an almost entirely new City Council. We, as well as our colleagues, are committed to a new culture, and a new focus: work as a team to deliver results. Nowhere is this drive to accomplish big things together more visible than in your budget, which we passed last week.
We knew we wanted to start early. We began the budget hearings and surveys before the administration announced its budget. Up until this year, most of the public feedback came after a proposed budget, not before. We held three additional public hearings, one of which was on a Saturday and included a meet-and-greet with council members. Accessibility is huge, and a lot of working people and parents can’t make it to a weeknight hearing. All of these changes were intentionally aimed to make the budget process more collaborative, responsive and representative of your views.
Out of this extended process comes a budget that prioritizes public safety and jobs:
More cops and firefighters by adding a second recruit class for both police and fire.
Additional funding for pedestrian safety to slow traffic, especially near schools.
Doubling down on our anti-litter and blight efforts.
Funding necessary to fix the crumbling Western Hills Viaduct.
Bonus pay to staff up Public Services and hire lifeguards to open our pools.
New investments in youth jobs, with good pay and real training.
Supporting childcare providers to re-open classrooms and help folks get back to work.
Funding for site readiness so we can compete for the good- paying Intel jobs.
Funding for wage enforcement to ensure paychecks are protected.
Historic investments in housing and human services.
We were able to make these investments while keeping our budget balanced because of the American Recovery Plan dollars we set aside. Our revenue has been decimated by cuts to the Local Government Fund from the Ohio Legislature. To make Cincinnati a better place for those of us already here, as well as encourage growth from new residents, we’ve got to build a next generation budget. Moving forward, we are beginning an independent review of our current revenues and expenditures. We will build a broad coalition of the business community, labor leaders, community advocates and budget specialists to determine what comes next.
For the time being, though, we have a budget dedicated to making Cincinnati a safer, more prosperous city for everyone.
Aftab Pureval is mayor of the city of Cincinnati. Greg Landsman is a Cincinnati City Council member.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Opinion: City budget prioritizes public safety and jobs