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City Official: Cincinnati Roads, Bridges In 'Steady Decline' Due To Under-Funding

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Tana Weingartner
/
WVXU

Cincinnati's director of transportation and engineering says city infrastructure is bearing the brunt of under-funding, and the department's capital budget could have a $100 million shortfall in the next four years.

John Brazina presented his budget request to City Council members Monday. He says even if their capital budget stays the same next fiscal year, it won't be enough for maintenance.

"This results in a slow, steady decline of the condition of our roads, our bridges, the riverfront transit center, our streetlights and our traffic signals," he said.

Brazina says the gap in capital funding could reach $100 million by 2025. The department also wants enough funding to fill 23 open positions, and to add 10 more full-time staff.

See the full budget request below (story continues after):

Dept of Transportation Budg... by WVXU News

Cincinnati Law Department

The Law Department is also requesting a budget increase for more staff: four new attorneys and three new paralegals.

City Solicitor Andrew Garth says, like many departments, they're doing more work with fewer resources:

"As the city itself has their resources constricted, very often the buck stops with the law department," Garth said. "Because we have a legal and professional obligation to follow through on whatever the consequences of city actions or city programs look like for the city. We're there through until the end, good or bad."

Garth says requests for legal services, legislation review, and public records are all up about 60 percent this fiscal year.

Cincinnati doesn't have a dedicated Public Records Office like some other cities. Interim Council Member Steve Goodin says it may be time to consider creating one.

Deputy City Solicitor Emily Smart Woerner says they're open to that possibility. She says losing a public records lawsuit can be expensive.

"I think that we all can agree that our limited resources are better invested on the front end than paying someone else's attorney fees on the back end," she said.

Most city departments are asking for budget increases, although the budget office is expecting to make cuts. City Council will approve the new budget by the end of June.

The city is expected to get more than $290 million in from the federal American Rescue Plan

"We have read that there's basically two payments: one within 60 days of the announcement and then a second one 12 months after that," said City Budget Director Chris Bigham. "Outside of that, we're still waiting to see what we can actually use, specifically, the dollars for. Of course, I'm hopeful that we can use it for fiscal '21, '22, and maybe even fiscal '23."

The 2021 fiscal year ends June 30 and the city is on track to finish the year with a balanced budget.

See full budget presentation below:

Dept of Law Budget Presenta... by WVXU News