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Cincinnati Council Gives Final Approval To City Budget

john cranley budget
Jay Hanselman
At City Hall Wednesday, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley vetoed $2.5 million in changes to the operating budget. He was against reducing police overtime funding and funding for the Center for Closing the Health Gap. Council later overrode his veto.

Cincinnati City Council gave final approval Wednesday to the city's $407 million operating budget for the new fiscal year that starts Sunday.

City council voted on several ordinances to enact the budget, and some of those votes were unanimous while some more controversial parts of the spending plan were approved by a 6-3 vote.

The budget includes no layoffs and maintained funding for human services organizations, economic development programs and neighborhood programs.  

A $32 million deficit was closed with about $10 million in non-personnel department cuts. The city also increased a number of fees for building permits, storm water, high parking meter rates and longer enforcement hours, and a new tax on billboards.

Council did make some last minute additions to the operating budget. Those include:

  • $200,000 to restore police overtime funding
  • $12,500 restoration for REDI (Regional Economic Development Initiative)
  • $35,000 restoration for the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority
  • $88,000 restoration to retain a state lobbyist

Those $335,500 restorations are paid with the following cuts:

  • $60,000 reduction to neighborhood policing
  • $60,000 reduction to city manager's office
  • $25,000 reduction to Department of Community and Economic Development
  • $25,000 reduction to Department of Transportation and Engineering
  • $65,500 reduction to non-departmental accounts
  • $100,000 of non-appropriated surplus funds

City council approved an ordinance Wednesday morning that made about $2.5 million in changes to the operating budget.
But Mayor John Cranley vetoed that ordinance after the morning meeting because he said it cut police overtime funding (which was later restored) to preserve $550,000 for the Center for Closing the Health Gap.

During the regular afternoon meeting, city council voted 6-3 to override that veto.

Cranley said the Center for Closing the Health Gap could apply for human services funding through the United Way process like other agencies, and added that the $550,000 could be better spent by the city's health department.

"The center does not deliver services to anybody," Cranley said. "And so if the goal is to improve health outcomes, I think the money would be better spent on our health department delivering actual services to people that don't have them."

Cranley had completely eliminated Health Gap funding, but a council majority restored it at $550,000.  That's $200,000 less than it received in the current fiscal year.

Council member Greg Landsman said the Center is one of three non-profits serving African-Americans in the city.

"They are in a unique position to serve a community of people that desperately need these services," Landsman said.

Council also gave final approval of a general capital budget worth about $85 million.