Mayor Makes His Proposals For 2014 City Budget

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Better protected neighborhoods, more recreation and better education—those are a few of the benefits Mayor Michael Coleman says Columbus residents can expect with his proposed 2014 budget.

Coleman's proposed budget is $796.7 million. That is about a $22 million increase over the current budget.

The mayor highlighted four key areas of investment in the proposed budget--increasing the Rainy Day Fund, opening recreation centers full time, continuing the fight against neighborhood blight and investing about $7.5 million in education.

Coleman says the city's Rainy Day fund will be around $64 million by the end of next year with a goal of $75 million by 2018.

He says the Rainy Day fund is important in case we experience another recession.

“There will be a time, whether it's me or some other mayor, there will be a need to dip into a Rainy Day fund because a rainy day has arrived,” Coleman said.

Coleman says the proposed budget will also continue the fight against neighborhood blight by beefing up code enforcement--adding two teams of four officers each.

He says the city also will invest in technology to keep track of offending property owners.

When it comes to allotting money to education, Coleman says the move is a must after Columbus City Schools saw its tax levy fail earlier this month.

"We can't let our kids fail even though the levy failed,” Coleman said.

Coleman says the proposed $7.5 million investment in education is important because education has an effect on everything else in the city.

"It impacts jobs. It impacts neighborhoods. It impacts crime. It impacts housing,” Coleman said.

The failed Issue 50 would have generated about $76 million annually for Columbus City Schools. The mayor's proposed allocation for education in 2014 is about a tenth of that figure.

But those that opposed the levy say the fact that the schools could be getting any money at all is proof that the levy was asking too much of taxpayers.

The Reverend Joel L. King, Jr., joined other area pastors before Election Day to fight the tax increase.

He says he is happy to see some funding coming without a new levy.

"I hope we just use it to the benefit of the kids this time and not the administration and mismanagement as we've seen in the past,” King said.

Reverend King says now that the city is talking about giving money to the schools, he wants to see the business community offer support.

"You step up too and put your money where your mouth is,” King said.

For Coleman, it will take more than just business leaders and the city to fix a broken school system.

"This entire community must continue the fight for these kids,” Coleman said.