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Cincinnati Council Approves Budget With Little Drama

City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati administrators will now begin the process of enacting the new budget for the fiscal year, which starts at the end of next week.  

Council voted Wednesday for the dozens of ordinances necessary to enact the spending plan.  In most cases, the council voted unanimously for some parts of the budget.  Council Member Kevin Flynn did vote no on some items and on the funding sources to pay for them.

For all the funds, the budget totals $1.6 billion.  

Council member P.G. Sittenfeld praised the effort to craft a budget.

"I think this is what a budget should be," Sittenfeld said. "It says that our neighborhoods are important, our core is important, public safety/basic services are important, so are our parks and recreation.  I think that's a balance that we've arrived at and it should be sort of a model for future years."

Council Member Yvette Simpson supported the budget, but she did question the process.

"But I always believe that you can have a great intention and a great outcome and if the process is screwed up, everybody feels a little bit wrong about it," Simpson said. "I think that's one area where I feel like we need more of that."

The city manager's approved general fund budget totals $387,969,360.  The restricted operating budget comes in at $438,732,100.  The manager's capital budgets combined are about $100 million.  

Mayor John Cranley made several changes to the manager's proposed budget, which is his right under the city Charter.  Council approved those revisions.

Mayor's General Fund Additions:

  • Human Services Funding                 $309,000
  • HandUp Initiative                              $  25,000
  • Strategies to End Homelessness     $    4,500
  • Comm Action Agency/Jumpstart   $150,000
  • Port Authority restoration                $  70,000

The mayor also was successful in securing approval for nearly $38 million in funding for projects in 13 different neighborhoods.  That includes $11.9 million to purchase the former Wasson Way rail line and begin the process to turn it into a bike and hike trail.  
Other major projects were funded in Oakley, College Hill, North Avondale, Over-the-Rhine, Madisonville, West Price Hill, Walnut Hills, Avondale, Westwood, and Bond Hill/Roselawn.

"There is a lot of exciting investment happening in neighborhoods in this budget that has been long promised, but not often followed through on," Cranley said. "I'm proud that with the help of city council we're able to put a significant amount of dollars into projects that people have been pushing for a very long time, and I'm very excited about this budget."

Council members also made some adjustments to the spending plan.

Council's General Fund Additions:

  • Violence Prevention                                       $250,000
  • 2 new school nurses                                       $110,000
  • MORTAR                                                          $  65,000
  • Keep Cincy Beautiful Future Blooms          $  90,000
  • African American Chamber                          $  32,500
  • Film Commission                                            $    7,500
  • CincyTech                                                         $  25,000
  • REDI                                                                  $  25,000
  • Peer Review Audit                                           $  50,000

Council's Capital Budget Additions:

  • CCAT (CAT House)                                  $300,000
  • Brewery District                                       $100,000
  • Ensemble Theatre                                    $132,000
  • Hillside Steps Repair                               $185,000
  • Council chamber technology                 $   5,000
  • Neighborhood Business Districts         $500,000
  • Neighborhood Planning                         $  35,000

Council approved issuing bonds to pay for various items in both the operating and capital budgets.
Council Member Chris Seelbach had complained earlier in the week that his budget adjustments had been separated out into separate ordinances, while other members had their changes included omnibus ordinances.  Being in separate ordinances made them subject to a mayoral veto.

But Seelbach successfully amended those omnibus ordinances during a committee meeting Wednesday morning, and his items were included in the larger measures.