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Cincinnati Council Continues Work On Next Budget

City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati Council will continue work Wednesday morning on finalizing changes to the city's next two-year budget. The full council could approve the spending plan that afternoon.

As it stands right now, there is a $600,000 gap that must be closed after a council majority told city administrators not to move forward with a plan to contract with a company to "boot" vehicles that have three or more unpaid parking tickets.
"Although it might generate revenue, the Paylock system would unfairly impact our citizens who can least afford it," said Vice Mayor David Mann in a written statement attached to the motion to stop the plan. "The city should not raise revenue at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens, particularly when parking is already so scarce in many of their neighborhoods.

Four other members voted with Mann in support of the plan, three voted no and one abstained.

Other revisions so far include:

  • Adding $35,000 for MORTAR, which is a program that seeks to build communities through entrepreneurship.
  • Restoring two percent cost of living raises for non-represented city employees.
  • Restoring City Council office budgets to current fiscal year levels.
  • Adding $500,000 for pedestrian safety efforts.
  • Adding $150,500 for a needle exchange program.

A council majority is also pushing administrators to find more money for human services programs funded through a process managed by the United Way. That additional funding could total about $350,000.
The Budget and Finance Committee Monday spent nearly six hours reviewing 23 separate motions to make changes to the budget plans proposed by City Manager Harry Black and Mayor John Cranley.

Usually there is one omnibus motion with all the changes, but that is not the case this year.

Council Member Yvette Simpson said she was not comfortable with the process. She pointed out that several of the motions paid for additions to the budget with the same funding source.

"What I'm saying is this process feels chaotic," Simpson said. "Because we could approve the same thing three times from the same source."

Council members rejected efforts to fund recreation center improvements, money for deferred maintenance at city parks, and funds to upgrade the city's IT infrastructure.

Council also voted down a plan to cap parking meter increases at 25 cents an hour. The manager and mayor's budgets include increases ranging from 25 to 50 cents an hour.

Council Member Kevin Flynn proposed 12 budget motions, and most were rejected.

One of the two that was approved asks city administrators to study whether money can be saved on worker's compensation payments. Another would have Invest in Neighborhoods buy a blanket liability insurance policy for all the neighborhood community councils to save money, instead of each council buying its own policy.

Meanwhile, the Budget and Finance committee Wednesday will discuss setting the operating budget for the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) to operate the city's streetcar system.

City administrators had recommended an ordinance with expenses totaling $4,593,511, with the city appropriating $3,315,759 toward that amount.

Flynn has an alternate plan with expenses totaling $4,393,389 and the city appropriating $2,919,000.

Council must approve a funding proposal for the streetcar by June 30.