By Bridget Doherty
Hamilton County Commission
Hamilton County Commissioners unanimously passed a $1.2 billion 2023 operating budget that prioritizes growing the County’s economy, supporting struggling families and youth, and focusing additional resources on public safety.
The budget balances the general fund at $354.8 million and balances the County’s restricted funds at $854.8 million. The County Commissioners achieved a structurally balanced budget, meaning that on-going revenues meet or exceed on-going expenditures.
“It is with great pride that we pass the 2023 budget that includes delivering services directly to families, communities and businesses in ways we’ve never done before,” said Board of County Commissioners President Stephanie Summerow Dumas. “Our budget enhances the lives of all our residents by supporting a safe, healthy and prosperous community while maintaining our fiscal responsibility.”
“This budget reinvests in the citizens of Hamilton County, while investing in the future growth of our county,” said Commission Vice President Alicia Reece. “We’ve developed innovative ways to help people, particularly seniors, keep the lights on, keep mortgages and rents paid, and keep small businesses open.”
“This budget provides financial stability and exciting opportunities,” said Commissioner Denise Driehaus. “It is responsive to our region’s unique needs. It is forward-thinking, provides predictability, dignifies our workforce, and allows us to be dependable partners in our region’s growth.”
The 2023 approved budget supplements the Administrator’s recommended budget with additional economic development initiatives, infrastructure and the first ring suburbs including:
- $1.5 million to continue tourism and economic development grants focused on supporting large catalytic events,
- $500,000 to support bike trail projects,
- $350,000 for the operations of the Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame,
- $250,000 for a grant program in the first ring suburban communities through the support of smaller, community-focused events,
- $50,000 to the Office of Small Business for funding a Small Business Day and Small Business “Pitch Night.”
The 2023 approved budget also reflects Commissioners’ values by supporting struggling families and youth with the following programs:
- $250,000 in additional youth resiliency grants to “Inspire” youth through coaching and mentoring,
- $400,000 for the expansion of Gender Based Violence education within Hamilton County schools,
- $200,000 to perform a feasibility analysis on the development of a youth sports complex in Hamilton County,
- $250,000 for a grant program, “Beyond Your Imagination,” to provide positive cultural experiences and interactions for foster care youth.
The 2023 approved budget priorities public safety in the County with the following investments:
- $5 million for care of youth in the Juvenile Court system,
- $3 million for technology needs and wage increases for the County’s 911 Emergency Call Center,
- $1.2 million for operations of a new Emergency Management Agency warehouse and internalizing emergency siren maintenance,
- $1 million on maintenance needs at the 38-year-old Justice Center,
- $1 million investment in body and dash cameras for Sheriff’s Deputies.
The Board of County Commissioners also gave guidance to the Administration to study, assess and report back on several items, including:
- The sewage clean-up needs at Union Baptist Cemetery in Price Hill,
- The need for additional shelter capacity for domestic violence victims,
- The feasibility and costs associated with an expanded 513 Relief Card and provide recommendations and alternatives to the Board,
The approved budget also combats inflationary pressures on County employees with a general wage increase of 3.5% and up to 1% merit increase.
American Rescue Plan Act Allocations Hamilton County received $158 million in funding from the federal government to respond to the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2023 budget contains funding for a variety of programs designed to meet the needs of disproportionately impacted families in Hamilton County including:
- Continued 513Relief programing and the 513Relief Bus,
- Relocating the Cincinnati Police Department’s Gun Range to the proposed Regional Safety Complex,
And a total of $40 million in affordable housing and housing assistance.