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Mayor Cranley Makes Budget Changes That "Reflect My Values"

Mayor John Cranley presiding over council meeting
Mayor John Cranley presiding over council meeting

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley has sent the budget to City Council for its consideration and approval.

Cranley announced about a dozen changes Wednesday to the spending plan Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney released last week.

"Most of my amendments are to underscore our commitment to expand opportunity, enhance neighborhoods and grow jobs," Cranley wrote in a message to council members.

Cranley added $1,596,653 to the general fund, or operating budget, and $5,250,000 to the capital budget. He covered those with a series of reductions (listed below).

One Cranley reduction that's likely to draw attention is his decision to eliminate all general fund money going to the Center for Closing the Health Gap.  Just a couple years ago, the Center was getting $1 million from the city.  Duhaney had proposed $562,500 in the new fiscal year, and Cranley took it to zero.

"They should compete like everybody else for the human service funding, and they're not excluded from doing that," Cranley told reporters Wednesday after announcing his budget changes to a large audience in Pleasant Ridge. "So I think it's just fair to treat organizations the same."

City council will have the option to fund the Center for Closing the Health Gap, but if Cranley remains opposed, it would take six votes to override his veto if he chooses to do that. Plus, council would have to find a funding source for it.

Health Gap officials have sent emails to supporters urging them to attend public hearings next week, or to write letters to council members asking them to support funding for the Center.

Cranley's proposed budget changes include:

  • $455,000 for GPS technology for police cars
  • Creating 15 new, permanent positions to clean up litter
  • Restoring $3 million for human services through the United Way process, and money for the Hand Up Initiative and the Compass Program
  • Restoring funding for Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Cincinnati, the African American Chamber, the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority and MORTAR, a resource hub for entrepreneurs
  • $850,000 in capital funding for the Pleasant Ridge business district to redevelop the corner of Montgomery Road and Lester Road
  • $2.5 million in capital dollars in East Price Hill to restore the 77-year-old Masonic Lodge
  • $450,000 each in the capital budget for Parks and Recreation centers for deferred capital maintenance
  • $500,000 for Inwood Park
  • $500,000 for Queen City and Boudinot park and recreation improvements

Where is he getting the funds for these changes? Here's how he's laying out the cash for the capital funds:

Credit City of Cincinnati

And here are the proposed sources for the operating budget:

Credit City of Cincinnati

The city administration proposed a series of fee increases to balance the budget. Cranley said he's reducing the proposed building permit fee increase by 30 percent. The mayor said the balance of the permit fee increase is needed to prevent layoffs.

"If council thinks fees are still too high, I'm willing to work with them to reduce those fee increases," Cranley said. "But it means reducing the spending along with it. So that won't be easy obviously."

City parking meter rates could be increasing from 25 to 75 cents per hour, and the meters will be enforced longer in some areas including parts of Over-the-Rhine.

Cranley also presented a series of ordinances with his budget plan. One he said maintains departmental services relied upon by residents, and the other ends "subsidies from the general fund to developers obtaining permits."

"Budgets are not simply recitations of what we have done, but what we intend to do," Cranley said in his message. "This budget reflects my values. It shows that fiscal responsibility and compassion are not mutually exclusive. It shows that we can run a city that serves its residents and makes the most of the resources they give us despite challenges."

Council must have a budget plan in place by June 30 for the new fiscal year, which starts July 1. Right now, it is set to take final budget votes June 27.

Cincinnati Council's Budget and Finance Committee is holding three public hearings on the proposed budget next week:

  • Monday, June 11, 2018 – 6 p.m., McKie Recreation Center, 1655 Chase Avenue                           
  • Tuesday, June 12, 2018 – 6 p.m., Madisonville Recreation Center, 5320 Stewart Avenue
  • Wednesday, June 13, 2018 – 6 p.m., College Hill Recreation Center, 5545 Belmont Avenue 

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