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Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb seeks to eliminate vacant police, city positions to balance budget

Bibb's $1.9 billion budget proposal features $711 million in General Fund spending. More than 250 unfilled city positions would be eliminated.

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb has released his 2023 budget estimate which calls for the elimination of more than 250 vacant positions in city departments, including 140 unfilled division of police jobs. 

The proposed $1.9 billion budget includes nearly $711 million in General Fund spending. Unlike last year, Bibb plans to achieve a structurally balanced budget that would give the city a $225,000 surplus. In 2022, the city used federal COVID-19 funds in order to correct a budget imbalance. 

Specifically, the budget estimate calls for the funding of 1,498 Cleveland Division of Police uniformed officers, which is down from 1,640 in 2022. The city notes in its proposal that at the end of 2022, the actual number of serving uniformed officers stood at 1,292.

The Cleveland Division of Police's budget is slated to increase from $211 million last year to $217 million in 2023 after the city and the police union agreed to a new contract last fall. In an email to 3News, the Bibb administration noted that the agreement provided a 7% pay increase to officers for 2022. "Given the city's fiscal constraints, this increase would not have been possible without a reduction in the number of budgeted but vacant positions," said Sarah Johnson, chief communications officer for Mayor Bibb. 

Administration officials say the safety of the city remains Bibb's "number one priority," adding that the staffing levels of the Cleveland Division of Police "reflects the strategic operations of the division while being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars."

"Over the last year, we have made significant progress and investments in our residents, technology and infrastructure," Bibb wrote in a letter to city council and Cleveland residents in his budget estimate. "In 2022, we built a foundation together that will support big things to come in 2023 and beyond."

Bibb added that his administration is targeting several initiatives for 2023, including revitalizing the city's east side neighborhoods, developing the lakefront, public safety, and choosing the next CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District after Eric Gordon departs in June. 

The budget must be approved by Cleveland City Council by April 1.

You can see Mayor Bibb's complete 2023 budget estimate below:

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