Columbus leaders approve more funds for fighting infant mortality, gang violence in new budget

Government And Institutions Associated Press

Columbus officials approved an operating budget for 2015 that will allocate more funds to combat infant mortality and gang violence.

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The Columbus City Council approved the $814 million budget Monday, The Columbus Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/1ASE6Dr ).

Within the budget is an anti-gang program including a $659,000 contract with nonprofit groups Columbus Urban League and the Community for New Direction. The program sends counselors to meet with teens, get them involved in after-school programs or find them a mentor.

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman began the program about four years ago to keep teens off the streets and teach them about solving conflicts peacefully. The program received about $466,000 in 2012.

City council is also expected to move about $750,000 from the budget to the city's public health department. That money will be used to provide support for city-employed nurses who work with new parents to help reduce the high number of infants in Columbus who die before their first birthday.

An average of three babies die in Franklin County each week from causes that officials say can be prevented with proper education and safe housing, the newspaper reported.

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The city's 2015 spending plan is a slight increase from the $807 million budget passed last year.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com