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Cincy Council discuss options for city budget

Jay Hanselman

Can Cincinnati balance its next budget without money from a proposed parking lease or massive layoffs?  The answer to that question depends on who you ask.  

City administrators say it's mathematically impossible to balance without one or the other.  

But some Council Members disagree.  P.G. Sittenfeld said during a special meeting Thursday there are options.

“Using casino revenue is an option, using capital dollars to pay for some of our personnel is an option, using revenue from the parking system is an option,” Sittenfeld said.  “So to pretend there are not other options, I do think is disingenuous.  When the administration brings us two bad options, shame on us if we take one of them.”

Without money from the parking lease, the city faces a $35 million general fund deficit when the fiscal year starts July 1st.  If the city ends up cutting more than 300 employees that number actually climbs to $45 million because of the expenses associated with layoffs.

Mayor Mark Mallory grew angry as the meeting continued.  He defended the city manager and his staff saying those officials are not playing politics.

“I don’t like it when our professionals are accused of being inept, they are not,” Mallory said.  “What’s disingenuous is to create a crisis, and then criticize the administration for its response to the crisis when those responsible for dealing with the crisis are the elected leaders.  It would be like an arsonist setting a building on fire and then complaining about how long it took the fire department to get there and what equipment they used to put out the fire.”

Mallory also said the budget discussion should have taken place in the Budget and Finance Committee meeting, not during a special Council session.  

Council must approve a spending plan by June 1st in order for it to take effect July 1st.