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Cleveland City Council passes $1.9 billion 2023 operating budget

The empty Cleveland City Council chamber view from gallery seats.
Natalia Garcia
Ideastream Public Media
Cleveland City Hall chambers

City Council approved Cleveland’s $1.9 billion budget on Monday night, delegating more funding than originally proposed for the Office of Equal Opportunity and Department of Building and Housing.

The budget, which includes more than $710 million in general fund daily operating expenses, was passed after months of hearings and negotiations between Mayor Justin Bibb and Cleveland City Council.

Bibb first submitted a budget estimate to council last month, which proposed slashing hundreds of vacant positions to maintain a balanced budget. More than 140 of those jobs were uniformed police officers, as the city struggles to recruit and retain officers. Other public safety divisions like Emergency Medical Services, were also budgeted with fewer positions.

Following weeks of budget hearings, during which council met with each department head to pick apart spending, City Council and Bibb’s administration reached an agreement that included cutting $224,000 from the inaugural budget for the city’s new Community Police Commission’s budget.

“Council had proposed a list of potential reductions to the budget to offset some of the additions, and to the extent any of their suggestions worked, we took them because they are at the end of the day the appropriator,” Cleveland’s Chief Financial Officer Ahmed Abonamah said.

That decision proved unpopular among some Cleveland residents, who showed up to voice their opposition for weeks during City Council’s public comment sessions.

The newly-seated commission, which was born out of a citizen-led ballot initiative to address concerns within the Cleveland Division of Police, is still receiving the minimum required by the charter amendment.

While some departments saw decreases in funds, others were approved for hundreds of thousands more than originally proposed.

The Department of Building and Housing, which manages code enforcement, construction permitting and inspections, was able to recoup the $600,000 proposed cut from their department.

Director Sally Martin told Ideastream the department plans to use the additional funds to hire six new housing inspectors. At present, the department is complaint-driven, but as housing stock ages, Martin said they are looking to be “more proactive.”

With the additional funds, Martin said they are considering hiring property maintenance inspectors, entry-level positions that will walk neighborhoods and proactively identify problem areas in the city.

“We want to know what’s wrong, we want to offer proactive resources to help people,” Martin said.

The Office of Equal Opportunity will also receive an additional $200,000.

Abbey Marshall covers Cleveland-area government and politics for Ideastream Public Media.