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Cincinnati department change vote delayed a week

Jay Hanselman

Cincinnati City Council will wait at least another week before voting on the city manager's plan to reorganize some city departments to improve customer service.  A committee failed to advance the item Wednesday during a special meeting.

City Manager Harry Black proposed this week that the city's Department of Planning and Buildings be split into separate divisions.  

The new building department would handle permits, inspections and code enforcement.  The goal is to make the construction paperwork process in the city more customer-friendly.  

The plan would also move weed and litter control from the health department to public services.  

Mayor John Cranley supports the changes and wanted a vote this week.

“Some of these changes need 30 days before they take effect,” Cranley said.  “Ramping up the changes, physical change, logistical changes, all of these things are going to take time.  And so every time we delay, it just delays quality service.”

But some council members want more time to review the ordinance that will require a change in the city's administrative code.  

Vice Mayor David Mann said there are a lot of words to consider.

“We’re just asking for a week to do our job,” Mann said.  “I don’t think that’s unreasonable.  It’s not a lack of leadership, it’s not standing in the way of progress, it’s saying we have a function too.  And if you come in with a piece of lengthy legislation on one day, with all respect, it doesn’t seem that you’re respecting our role if you expect us to act the next day.”

Most council members seem supportive of the city manager's proposal.  That is important because it will take seven of the nine votes to approve the changes.  

Council Member Charlie Winburn was also against waiting a week.

“Don’t hold this up,” Winburn said.  “Yes, you’ve got the power to do it, you’ve got the power to “jack” us around, you’ve got the power to hold up people, you’ve got the power to stop stuff.  Use your power today to expedite, to get this going.”

The city manager said he can deliver on this proposal and make it work.  The goals are to increase efficiency, effectiveness and customer service.  

City officials are trying to get the changes in place soon because department directors are preparing budgets for the new fiscal year which starts July 1st.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.