City Council Passes $1.8 Billion Cleveland Budget

Cleveland city hall
Cleveland city revenues are expected to recover from last year's pandemic shock, but not to 2019 levels. [Tim Harrison / ideastream]
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Cleveland City Council approved Mayor Frank Jackson’s $1.8 billion budget Monday afternoon, increasing operating spending slightly after the COVID-19 pandemic dented last year’s revenues.

The city’s income tax revenue took a hit last year and the pandemic wiped out much of Cleveland’s revenue from taxes on hotel rooms and event admissions. Revenue in those areas is expected to recover this year, but still fall short of 2019 levels.

Cleveland was able to offset last year’s losses with the help of conservative 2020 budgeting and $60 million in federal coronavirus relief, according to Jackson.

“Without that money, and along with our budgeting for a recession [in 2020] and doing cost-cutting measures, we would have had to lay off [workers]”, Jackson told council last month. “That is why it’s so important that we recognize what’s going on in Washington, D.C., with these new stimulus dollars.”

The 2021 budget does not account for Cleveland’s share of the latest round of federal stimulus funding, which includes $350 billion for state and local governments.

Jackson proposed a $15 million increase in public safety spending, or about 4 percent more than last year, with more money for police, fire and the continued implementation of the police consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department.

Council members have pushed to swell the ranks of police officers, particularly the specialized units that investigate homicides and sexual assaults. This year, the city aims to bring on 180 new police cadets.

Council added almost $5.7 million to the budget, much of it for senior housing assistance and ward-based projects, including $1 million for investments in “middle neighborhoods” – Cleveland communities that are neither booming nor in dire distress.

Council also boosted funding for the Cleveland Municipal Court and added $50,000 for a police wellness program.

Next week, council plans to consider selling almost $140 million in bonds to finance the upkeep of streets, parks and recreation centers and city buildings.

The bond sale also would support the construction of a new police headquarters. In 2019, the Jackson administration announced plans to build the new facility along the under-construction Opportunity Corridor road project.

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