Cincinnati Council Overrides Mayoral Vetoes

Oct 17, 2018

Cincinnati Council voted Wednesday to override two vetoes Mayor John Canley issued last week on ordinances concerning updates to this year's budget and funding for the Liberty Street road diet.

While the ordinances are technically now in effect, they will likely be altered in the coming weeks.

Three council members announced a compromise Tuesday that will re-direct some funding in the city's carryover budget to the Liberty Street project, and take less money from a neighborhood tax increment financing (TIF) fund for the project.

Bethany House will lose $150,000 of its $500,000 to purchase land for a new facility; $125,000 will be taken from a pilot project to prevent evictions in the city, leaving it with $125,000; and the Center for Closing the Health Gap will be reduced by $8,000 for a total of $692,000 for the fiscal year.  

The Health Gap is also returning $42,000 to the city, money that it didn't spend in the last fiscal year.

Council Member Chris Seelbach praised colleague Jeff Pastor for "working across the aisle" on a compromise.

"The amount of people who have been far right conservatives and far left liberals are like, 'This is what should be happening in our country right now,' " Seelbach said. "We're not always going to get what we want. We're not always going to get 100 percent. But if we do reach across the aisle and work with people who have different opinions and do it in a civil way."

Pastor has taken some heat on social media because of his work on the compromise.

"Did I get everything that I wanted, absolutely not," Pastor said during the meeting. "And I think when you have bipartisanship, you have compromise, it's supposed to be that way."

Mayor John Cranley said a council majority is taking the easy way out, not making cuts to come up with funding for the items in the compromise.

"That's what's called governing," Cranley said. "As President Kennedy said, 'To govern is to chose.' You guys aren't making any tough cuts."

The updated uses for the carryover funds for the last fiscal year and money the city is getting from selling the Whex Garage at 212 W. 4th Street include:

  • $300,000 for items already included in this year's budget, but without a funding source
  • $47,000 to pay for a state audit finding concerning Metropolitan Sewer District
  • $425,000 ShotSpotter in Price Hill
  • $18,000 property tax repayment error
  • $2,000,000 police radio upgrade
  • $75,000 housing court startup cost
  • $60,000 heroin call center
  • $636,000 police recruit class earlier start date (January instead of April 2019)
  • $709,000 items funded with proposed billboard tax delayed by litigation
  • $350,000 Bethany House to buy land for new facility
  • $125,000 pilot eviction prevention program
  • $15,000 ArtsWorks employment project
  • $110,000 Wage Compression funding (adjusting some city employee salaries)
  • $73,000 additional for CincyTech (job training program)
  • $73,000 additional for Cintrifuse (job training program)
  • $142,000 additional funding for the Center for Closing the Health Gap
  • $573,000 for the Liberty Street road diet proposal will come from the Downtown East/Over-the-Rhine TIF account, and the remaining $252,000 to complete the plan will come from the carryover budget funds.

City administration is also being asked to consider additional options for the Liberty Street design that make it safer for pedestrians and bicycles and also reduce the price of the project. Council is asking for a report in 30 days on such options and an updated cost. The city had estimated the plan to cost $3.2 million.

Council couldn't vote on "tweaks" Wednesday because Mayor Cranley could veto them even though six members are supportive.

The city charter states council can consider veto overrides at the next two regularly scheduled meetings after the mayor issues a veto. Council member Chris Seelbach will be absent for the next two weeks, and that means there wouldn't be six votes available for override.

A city council committee could discuss and vote on the compromise spending ordinance Monday.