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Cincinnati Council Finalizes Budget Changes

A Cincinnati Council majority has voted to make about $2.5 million in changes to the city's general fund budget for the new fiscal year that starts Sunday.

The Budget and Finance Committee met Monday and discussed a series of modifications to spending plans proposed by Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney and Mayor John Cranley.

They had presented budgets that closed a $32 million deficit without layoffs.

Council by a 6-2 vote amended those plans to restore funding for human services organizations, economic development programs and the Center for Closing the Health Gap.  Council also eliminated a program that would have raised revenue by "booting" vehicles with unpaid city parking tickets.

Specific council additions to the general fund budget include:

  • $790,000    Restore human services funding to one percent of general fund budget
  • $39,827      Money to operate winter shelter in the new fiscal year
  • $60,183      Youth employment program
  • $550,000    Center for Closing the Health Gap
  • $177,010      CincyTech
  • $177,010     Cintrifuse
  • $88,505     Hillman Accelerator
  • $75,229     Additional money for neighborhoods through NSP program
  • $85,850     Money for clerk of council, mayor's office and council offices
  • $77,884      Center for Addiction Treatment
  • $400,000    Removing the "booting" program from manager and mayor's budget
  • $2,521,500    Total

Council approved the following changes or reductions to pay for that spending:

  • $636,000    Delay start of the next police department recruit class by three months
  • $541,000     Reducing non-personnel spending by city departments
  • $100,000    Citirama swap (one time)
  • $200,000    Reduce police department overtime budget
  • $200,000    Carryover/surplus from the current fiscal year
  • $709,000     New tax on billboards in the city
  • $88,000      Eliminating the city's state lobbyist
  • $35,000      Reducing city support for Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority
  • $12,500       Reducing city support for REDI
  • $2,521,500    Total

The Budget and Finance Committee also approved about $1 million in additions to the proposed capital budget.  That includes $200,000 to expand the Red Bike Program, $125,000 for a match to complete the Central Parkway bike lanes, $125,000 in funding for neighborhood business district improvements, and $100,000 to perform critical maintenance on hillside steps.

Council member David Mann, who chairs the Budget and Finance Committee, said he thinks on balance the compromise is great. He also said not everybody got what they wanted.

"It's a good balanced budget," Mann said. "And I think that we should be pleased given how tough and tight everything is."

Mann said going into Monday's meeting he wasn't sure what would happen. He said the council members began talking and exchanging ideas and arrived at a budget.

Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld said the process to reach a compromise is what governing looks like.

"I think in the end, we tried to deliver on basic services, make sure we're doing right by our human services, a lot of external agencies that we think perform vital functions," Sittenfeld said. "You know you saw people come together, and it was all done sort of in the light of day in the council chamber and say here's a budget that we can all live with and agree on."

One council member who didn't agree to the compromise on the changes was Amy Murray.  She was against the fee increases and new taxes included in the new budget.

"The majority of council who voted for this have increased fees or taxes in seven different areas today," Murray said. "So for me that's outrageous, we have people who have a hard time making ends meet."

City residents will pay higher parking meter rates; it will cost more to get a building permit; storm water rates will increase; and people who don't get their trash collected by the city will likely see bills from private collectors increase because of a higher commercial waste hauler fee.  

The full Cincinnati Council will meet Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. to vote on the various ordinances needed to enact the city budget by the July 1 deadline.

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