Mar 21, 2022
City Council tonight approved the city’s proposed $1.8 billion annual budget which includes a $704 million General Fund for daily operations and services.
“Council had an energetic discussion about the budget over two weeks,” said Council President Blaine A. Griffin. “Members brought institutional knowledge and careful examination of the budget to the discussion and advocated for important changes.”
Council began back-to-back budget hearings February 22nd, pouring over every detail of the 550-page document and hearing from every city department and division.
To balance the 2022 budget, Mayor Justin Bibb’s administration requires rolling over more than $60 million of $132 million in money carried over from 2021. Both the federal CARES Act and American Rescue Act Funding helped the city end the year with the balance.
While voting to approve the budget, council members voiced serious concerns over the administration not providing a structurally balanced budget – where revenues equal expenses. They also highlighted the negative forces facing Cleveland: the rising oil and gas prices from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which in turn will likely increase the costs of goods and services; the questions about how much income tax the city may have to reimburse people who worked from home last year rather than at their Cleveland offices; and the union wage and benefit negotiations that are set to start soon with the 30 unions that represent different city employees. These likely increases were not incorporated into the budget.
Council President Griffin said he planned to hold regular Finance Committee meetings with the city’s Budget Director to receive updates on spending, income tax rebate amounts and hiring to ensure the city’s financial stability in these uncertain times.
Council made some important changes to the budget, including adding new positions – two in the Department of Health, one in the Landmarks Commission and one in the Board of Building Standards.
- Added $200,000 to Vision Zero, a traffic safety program council initiated.
- Increased funding for the Right to Counsel program council initiated from $300,000 to $500,000. The program assigns free legal assistance to families with children who are facing evictions.
- Increased funding for the Cleveland Muni Football League from $80,000 to $160,000.
- Added back to the budget the Age Friendly Home Investment Program that provides $150,000 per ward for senior home repair. Council initially added this new program to help seniors in 2018, but it wasn’t included in the mayor’s 2022 budget.
- Added back to the budget $150,000 for each of the 17 council members to assist in funding neighborhood projects including park or playground improvements, street repairs and other infrastructure. Council first added this in 2018, but it wasn’t included in the mayor’s 2022 budget.
- Raised annual salaries of council members’ executive assistants to not exceed $55,000 from the current $48,000.
Council’s additions add approximately $5.8 million to the budget. By law, Council must approve a budget by April 1st.