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Cincinnati Council Mulling How To Spend Carryover Budget Balance

Jay Hanselman

Cincinnati Council could vote in two weeks on how to spend $20.3 million that was carried over from the budget that ended June 30.

City Budget Director Chris Bigham said that positive variance was the result of higher than expected revenues and significant cost savings city administrators implemented because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"With all the chaos, with all the confusion, quite frankly, of fiscal '20, we actually ended the year a lot better than expected," Bigham said.

The city borrowed $10.2 million to balance this year's general fund budget.

The city is now in a position to repay that loan thanks to additional federal CARES act money and the carryover funds.

Mayor John Cranley said Monday that's good, but the city's financial crisis is not over.

"If we receive no additional federal funds for our next budget, revenues have to improve by about $40 million, or we have to do some major downsizing of city services," Cranley said. "So, we are still in a very difficult economic situation."

City administrators are recommending council use about $17.6 million for budget stabilization and reserve accounts. That's includes $2.5 million to repay the borrowed money to balance the current fiscal year budget.

The remaining $2.7 million would be spent on several things including a police plan to address gun violence in the city.

Police Chief Eliot Isaac is asking for $1 million, and $700,000 would be used for overtime to increase police visibility in some crime hotspots.

Isaac said some of the money would also be used to create a gun crime intelligence center. He said there's a similar program in Indianapolis, and Cincinnati's could be the first in Ohio.

"This would allow us to house our officers, our task force officers, along with our federal partners and prosecution under one roof," Isaac said. "To be able to gather real time intelligence, to really focus on those individuals that are having the most impact on violence in our city."

The full council now has two weeks to decide whether to follow the city administration's recommendations for the carryover balance, or it can go in a different direction.

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.