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Cincinnati a step closer to FY2015 budget

Jay Hanselman

Six Cincinnati Council members are ready to approve the city's operating budget for the next fiscal year which begins July 1st.  

The Budget and Finance Committee held a meeting Monday to approve a motion making a handful of changes to Mayor John Cranley's proposed spending plan that was presented to Council last month.  A final vote on the proposal is set Wednesday.

“If you agree with roughly 99 percent of the budget that’s not too shabby,” Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld said in voting in favor of the budget.  “We live in a democracy, there’s never going to be 100 percent agreement.  I am basically comfortable with 99 percent of the budget.  I’m not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

The changes include money for some home health nurse positions, funding to train ex-offenders for jobs and a call for administrators to find resources to restore dollars to help make improvements in neighborhood business district.  The budget motion also keeps the city's current definition for the bicycle program.

“There are parts of this budget I cannot stand,” Council Member Wendell Young said in casting a yes vote in favor of the plan.  “But the overall budget I believe is something I can live with.  I believe that after all the questions are answered, based on what I’ve heard and observed here today, there won’t be substantial change to this budget.”

Council Member Yvette Simpson, Chris Seelbach and Kevin Flynn voted no on the budget motion.  But Flynn did have some praise for the proposal.

“A very strong move toward a structurally balanced budget,” Flynn said.  “I see this budget as moving us light years ahead of where we’ve been in the past.  I still have concerns.”

Council Member Yvette Simpson said she is not convinced that the plan is structurally balanced as the mayor and city officials have claimed.

“I certainly have qualms about the fact that we’re calling it structurally balanced and it’s really not,” Simpson said.  “It may not even be completely balanced if we get a different decision on the pension than what we’ve anticipated.  So we may even have a deficit in the middle of the year.”

Yet to be decided is if city residents will see an increase in their water bills.  City officials want a 7.5 percent hike, but it seems a Council majority is not willing to do that.  There could be a compromise at 4 percent, and that could mean the water works portion of the city budget will be delayed until later this month.  

There is a final public hearing on the spending plan Tuesday night starting at 6 at Midway Elementary School at 3156 Glenmore Avenue.