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It's City Council's Turn To Amend Proposed Budget

Bill Rinehart

Cincinnati Council's Budget and Finance Committee will meet Tuesday afternoon to debate and discuss motions to make changes to the budget proposed by City Manager Patrick Duhaney and Mayor John Cranley.
If the committee can agree on motions to makes those changes, the city's law department will draft the ordinances necessary to enact the spending plan for the new fiscal year that starts July 1.  The committee and the full council could vote on the budget Wednesday.

Once again during a public hearing Monday, many speakers asked City Council to take money away from the Cincinnati Police Department and shift it to other social service programs. Many want the police budget reduced by 50%.

Resident Douglas Freeze asked City Council to rewrite the proposed budget it received from the manager and the mayor.

"And then commit at the barest minimum to eliminating 50% of the Cincinnati Police Department funding in fiscal year 2021, and redistribute that $75 million to housing, health care, education, prioritizing Black and Brown and Indigenous communities right now," Freeze said. "And remember that we are your employers and this will come up on your next performance review."

Speaker Kelly Sheen said protestors and demonstrators are not going away.

"This is not a win for you," Sheen said. "David Mann, you lit a match and you threw it into a gasoline tank. And that will fuel the fire of our demands to defund the police and fully dismantle all forms systemic racism long after we vote you out of office."

Several speakers asked Mann to resign because of his actions and comments during a public hearing last Thursday at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Mann halted that meeting after the crowd booed and shouted down a speaker who spoke in favor of full funding for the police department.

Five council members have signed a motion to take the proposed approximately $1 million increase in the police department's budget, and that money would be redirected to youth employment and opportunities.

Six council members have signed a motion to take $10 million of money the city is receiving from Hamilton County through the federal CARES Act to address some concerns raised by the speakers. The federal money would be used for eligible COVID-19 related expenses. That would free up city general fund money to be reallocated for other purposes.

For the capital budget the motion suggests using $5 million for the affordable housing trust fund, $1 million for Bethany House and $2 million for the fire department.

The same motion would direct $2 million to the following:

  • $85,000    Mortar
  • $250,000    Eviction prevention
  • $200,000    Summer youth employment initiative
  • $50,000    Citizen complaint authority
  • $240,000    CPD continuous improvement program
  • $75,000    Black and Brown artists fund
  • $100,000    Children's Home job readiness program
  • $500,000    Black and Brown businesses fund
  • $1,000,000 Community safety response program

City lawyers are reviewing the motion and will issue a report Tuesday on whether it's feasible. There are concerns about CARES Act money not being used for revenue replacement.  And the city is doing emergency borrowing under state law, and those dollars may not be eligible for some of the spending items in the motion.

Council and administrators are working to close a $73.4 million deficit in the city's general fund budget, which pays for basic city services.

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.