A budget deal reached by Mayor Justin Bibb’s administration and Cleveland City Council would spend more money on housing code enforcement and less money on the Community Police Commission.
Council’s finance committee approved the agreement on Monday, effectively bringing 2023 budget talks to an end. But the deal likely won’t end the debate over how the administration hires and deploys police officers and other city staff.
The Bibb administration produced a balanced budget proposal this year by eliminating vacant positions in the Division of Police and elsewhere. Council President Blaine Griffin said he had asked committee chairs to take a “deep dive” on staffing levels in departments under their oversight.
The amendment cuts $224,000 from the amount Bibb had originally proposed for the police commission. Commission leaders had planned to spend the additional money on staff costs, including an attorney. The commission had also requested an additional nearly $18,000 for professional services not included in the mayor’s original budget estimate.
The new spending proposal leaves the commission with just more than $2 million to spend this year – the minimum set under the charter amendment passed by voters in 2021. The charter gives the commission a budget of $1 million plus an amount equal to 0.5% of the police budget.
Griffin said council wasn’t cutting the commission budget below the levels prescribed by the voters.
“They’re a new commission,” he said. “They’re kind of getting their levels set and everything else. We want to understand and see how their operations go. And we’re still the fiscal body who has to figure out how to juggle dollars in order to pay for things like aging, infrastructure and other needs that we have in the neighborhood.”
The city’s Department of Building and Housing receives a $600,000 boost from the amended appropriation. The department will use the money on salaries for additional building inspectors, for the city’s rental registry and for lead paint code enforcement, Finance Director Ahmed Abonamah told council.
The Office of Equal Opportunity will also receive another $200,000 for staffing, he said. The city’s healthy homes initiative – which connects residents with help fixing up their houses – will get an additional $60,000 under the amended appropriation.
City Council will receive a roughly $1.3 million bump in members’ capital repair funds. That increase will give each of the 17 council members $125,000 in capital funds to spend in their wards, Abonamah said.
The changes will not knock the budget out of balance.
To pay for the increases, the city is cutting spending that had been budgeted for utilities expenses, the finance director said. The administration cut $750,000 from the budget of the Division of Correction – which oversees Cleveland’s agreement with Cuyahoga County to house arrestees in the jail.