(Columbus) – Columbus City Council today highlighted their 2012 proposed budget amendments which focus on core city services that improve public safety, increase job opportunities and strengthen neighborhoods. In addition, council announced their intention to set aside $1 million in available resources in addition to the savings included in Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s proposed budget.

In making their appropriations, City Council will utilize two existing funds, the Jobs Growth and Public Safety Initiative Funds, while creating a third, the Neighborhood Initiatives Fund, to align funding with key budget priorities.

“The use of these funds will help City Council prioritize spending to have the greatest impact on Columbus neighborhoods,” said Priscilla R. Tyson, chair of the Finance Committee. “The Neighborhood Services Fund, in particular, will help meet the needs of our residents like never before.”

The City of Columbus realized a carryover of approximately $2.79-million in general fund revenues from 2011. This funding, combined with carryover revenue in the Cultural Services and Emergency Human Services Funds will allow Council to restore program funding reduced in previous budget cycles, provide limited funding for new initiatives which address community needs, and to preserve at least $1 million.

“We believe setting aside a portion of carryover revenue is a responsible decision given the uncertainty facing local governments today,” said Tyson. “This builds on the Mayor and Council’s shared commitment to prepare for future budget challenges, and to restore the City’s Rainy Day Fund.

The Mayor’s proposed 2012 budget includes a $10 million set aside to mitigate anticipated state revenue cuts in 2013, while placing an additional $6.7 million in the City’s Budget Stabilization Fund. In 2011, Council opted to preserve approximately $2-million in carryover dollars, and asked the Mayor to cut an additional $1-million from his proposed budget.

Columbus City Council will hold a public hearing to address these budget amendments and related spending priorities, Thursday, January 19 at 5:30 pm in City Council Chambers. Speaker slips may be filled out Thursday morning beginning at 8:00 am at the security desk at Front Street entrance to City Hall. Speaker slips will be accepted until 6 pm and the meeting will be broadcast live on CTV, Columbus’ government channel 3 on local cable systems.

Highlights from City Council’s budget amendments include:

Councilmember Priscilla R. Tyson

$100,000 Workforce Development

During a recent public budget retreat, local economist Dr. Bill Lafayette told Councilmembers about the urgent need to train workers in not the only technical skills valued in today’s marketplace, but soft skills as well, such as communication, teamwork, and customer service. This amendment will set aside dollars to invest in various job training and development programs to cultivate a stronger workforce in Columbus.

Councilmember Hearcel F. Craig

$500,000 Human Services Contracts

The downturn in the economy has had a crippling effect on human service providers in Columbus at a time when the need for various services has skyrocketed. This amendment of $500,000, offered by Hearcel F. Craig, will help these agencies continue their mission to provide health, housing, and human service programs to thousands of Columbus residents and families. This funding is made possible thanks to money already in the City’s Emergency Human Services Fund and increases by 25% the overall City funding of social service agencies in the 2012 budget. Click here for list of agencies and programs funded thanks to this amendment.

Councilmember A. Troy Miller

$63,000 TechColumbus Funding

This budget amendment continues City Council’s commitment to growing small and high-tech jobs and businesses in Columbus. Combined with $437,000 already provided in the Mayor’s budget, this $63,000 amendment will allow TechColumbus to secure a dollar for dollar matching grant from Ohio’s Third Frontier Program designed to launch and grow technology based companies in Columbus.

Councilmember Zach M. Klein

$500,000 Graffiti Abatement Program

Graffiti is public safety and economic development issue that can be found in every community in Columbus. When graffiti is allowed to remain on the side of a property, it says that the neighborhood is unsafe and a bad place to do business. Last October, after numerous public meetings and hearings on the issue, Councilmember Klein, along with Councilmember Mills, announced they would seek funding for a graffiti abatement program to begin in 2012. A combination of Community Development Block Grant dollars and general fund carryover will help launch this program which will be designed to assist residents and business owners quickly clean graffiti from their property.

Councilmembers Eileen Y. Paley & Michelle M. Mills

$380,000 Specialty Dockets

The Franklin County Municipal Court has a number of Specialty Dockets designed to rehabilitate the lives of non-violent offenders, helping to turn these men and women into productive members of the community at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers. These specially designed courtrooms address the problems and meet the special needs of those involved in prostitution, addicted to drugs and alcohol, those who are mentally ill, and veterans who have been arrested, while providing a wide range of social services and an alternative to traditional incarceration.

Council President Andrew J. Ginther

$313,000 Community Crime Patrol

For more than two decades, the Community Crime Patrol (CCP) has provided an extra level of safety and security for many Columbus neighborhoods. CCP personnel are the eyes and ears of Columbus police officers, alerting police to suspicious behavior or when a crime has been committed. During the years, the CCP have reported thousands of incidents and taken part in hundreds of arrests. Also during this time, the group has taken on additional responsibilities while seeing funding cut in recent years. This $313,000 amendment, offered by Council President Andrew J. Ginther, and supported by Safety Chair, Councilmember Michelle M. Mills, will restore the group’s funding to pre-income tax increase levels.