The City of Columbus has approved its 2014 budget, balancing the $42.3 million funded by property taxes and decreasing spending in that portion of the budget while making major investments in public safety, animal care, transit accessibility, parks facilities and significant infrastructure improvements in East Columbus.
The property-tax funded portion of the 2014 budget decreases spending by 1.6 percent from this year’s budget and does not rely on the $1.4 million in revenue that was being collected from trash fees on local property owners. This portion of the budget includes major investments that align with the goals of the City’s strategic plan, including:
- The addition of two School Resource Officers to assist in the reduction and prevention of bullying, truancy and drug use within the schools as well as general protection for students.
- Paramedic training for 10 additional firefighters to meet the strategic goal of being able to staff a paramedic at all six fire stations 24 hours each day, every day of the week, to ensure optimal victim survivability in life threatening emergencies.
- The addition of two part-time employees to help ensure the City’s Animal Care Services continues to meet a 100 percent save rate for healthy, adoptable dogs and continue to improve the save rate for healthy, adoptable cats, in addition to increasing spay and neuter rates.
- Improve service to transit-dependent residents by extending route hours from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. to better accommodate hours of employment.
- Increasing the City’s Parks and Recreation Department’s expenditures for capital maintenance of existing facilities to $435,000 to help better care for and maintain valuable but aging parks facilities. From 2008-2012, this averaged only $50,000 per year.
Indiana Avenue Improvements
- Investing an additional $1.6 million in 2014 for significant improvements to Indiana Avenue in East Columbus to fund the local portion of the $6 million project that will add sidewalks, parking lanes, a storm sewer and other additions to the main street serving East Columbus residents and Columbus East High School.
The City has balanced the property-tax funded portion of the budget through thoughtful analysis and cost efficiencies, including the reduction of the City’s share of the county-wide ambulance service fee. The City reduced its costs from more than $715,000 in 2012 to no cost in 2014.
The overall budget of $49.3 million includes $7 million funded with non-property tax revenue and includes a project to build two new hangers at the Columbus Municipal Airport to accommodate customer demand. The overall budget will increase the 2014 budget only 1.6 percent over this year’s budget of $48.6 million. The difference between the two budgets is less than $767,000.
Property taxes are funding none of the additional investments that raise the overall 2014 budget over this year’s budget. The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation will reimburse the City for its investment in the two School Resource Officers. The Columbus Municipal Airport is entirely self-sufficient, and the $600,000 project to build two new hangers at the airport is being funded by non-property tax revenue from the airport’s extremely healthy cash balance. The hangers will be leased to customers for a fee.