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Mayor Bibb's first proposed budget includes both increased police funding, money to implement Issue 24

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Posted at 5:00 PM, Feb 02, 2022

CLEVELAND — In his first proposed budget of his administration, Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb has outlined some of his broad priorities for 2022, including additional funding for the city’s health department, the division of police, as well as money intended to implement Issue 24, the charter amendment approved by voters that calls for civilian oversight of police training and discipline.

Bibb submitted the proposed $1.8 billion budget on Tuesday, in accordance with the city’s charter. The general fund, which helps to fund the vast majority of the city’s daily responsibilities, including public safety, parks, and public health, makes up about 40% of the city’s overall budget.

Increased funding for the law department, public health department as well as increased funding for Bibb’s cabinet are among some of the changes included in his proposed budget.

More than $3 million has been allocated to bolster the resources of two police oversight boards: the Office of Professional Standards and Civilian Police Review Board. The proposed allocation appears to satisfy two requirements stipulated in Issue 24, the charter amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters in November. The charter amendment required that 1% of the city’s police budget be redirected to the two oversight boards while an additional 0.5% of the police budget be redirected to community grants.

“It’s a good sign that [Bibb] is standing by his commitments to the implementation of Issue 24. It’s a good sign that the process has started,” said LaTonya Goldsby, the president of Black Lives Matter Cleveland. “It’s also a good sign that those [oversight committees] will actually have the resources that they need to operate in their full capacity.”

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Under Issue 24, which drew opposition from police unions, the civilian oversight boards would have the ultimate authority to discipline officers as well as approve police training.

Goldsby said Bibb’s proposed budget is encouraging.

increased funding for the city’s health department as well as increased funding for additional cabinet-level positions.

“It’s a good step in the right direction. I applaud him for taking that initiative,” Goldsby said. “This is encouraging that they will have the funding to be able to be proactive instead of reactive. They might be able to create some programming to address the underlying issues in our community.”

Under Bibb’s proposed budget, the Cleveland Division of Police is also projected to receive a fairly significant funding increase, amounting to about a 6% increase over 2021’s budgeted amount. Despite the proposed increase in funding, the mayor’s budget does not call for an increase to the budgeted number of officers and, instead, remains flat at 1640. As of the end of 2021, the division employed 1402 officers, more than 230 officers short of its budgeted amount.

“I’m hoping that some of that funding in the public safety budget will go to alternatives to mass incarceration or alternatives to policing,” Goldsby said. “That would really create some programming in our community that are actually geared toward treating the issues in our community.”

Under Bibb’s proposed budget, the city’s health department will receive a significant funding boost. The proposed increase of $2 million will be used to hire additional staff as well as acquire two mobile health clinics. Earlier this week, Bibb reaffirmed his goal of increasing the city’s vaccination rate to 60% by the end of the year.

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In a press conference, Bibb also addressed some of the uncertainty surrounding the city’s budget this year, particularly in what the city may expect to receive from local income taxes. Over the next few months, an unknown number of taxpayers are expected to seek refunds on their income tax returns due to working from home — and outside the city — because of the pandemic.

“We have some financial headwinds that we’re going to see through the potential change in municipal income tax loss to our balance sheet,” Bibb said on Monday. “As mayor, it’s my job to look outside of city hall to find every resource I can to support our residents.”

The City Council is expected to begin hearings on the proposed budget on Feb. 22. The budget must be finalized by April 1.