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Mar 07, 2022

City Council tonight gave preliminary approval to Mayor Justin Bibb’s proposed $1.8 billion annual budget which includes a $704 million General Fund for daily operations and services.

The approval was in the form of a “second reading.” Three readings are required for passage and adoption.

By law, council, which has the power to make changes to the spending plan, must finalize the budget by April 1.

Council began back-to-back budget hearings February 22, pouring over every detail of the 550-page document and hearing from every city department and division.

To balance the 2022 budget, Mayor Bibb’s administration included rolling over $56 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 their 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 made some changes to the proposed budget, including adding new positions – two in the Department of Health, one in the Landmarks Commission and one in the Board of Building Standards.

Council also:

  • Raised annual salaries of council members’ executive assistants to not exceed $55,000 from the current $48,000.
  • Added $200,000 to Vision Zero, a traffic safety program.
  • Increased funding for the Right to Counsel program 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.

Council’s additions add approximately $5.8 million to the budget. After the second reading, the budget must “sit” for seven days after publication in the City Record. The third and final reading is expected at council’s March 21, 2022 council meeting.