City Council Approves $1.5 Billion Budget: Here's Where It's Going
Cincinnati City Council approved the city's $1.5 billion budget Wednesday for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The budget includes a significant increase for the city's independent police oversight board, and a five-year plan for increasing water rates.
The budget has no cuts thanks to federal stimulus from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Police Oversight Board
Council voted unanimously to approve changes made in committee Monday and last week, including an additional $350,000 for the Citizen Complaint Authority. Greg Landsman pushed for that funding, including a motion asking the administration to include another $50,000 for the CCA in a plan for spending surplus from fiscal year 2021. CCA Director Gabe Davis requested a $460,000 increase to hire five new staff members.
Water Rate Increases
Council was split on a vote to increase water rates for the next five years. The rate plan includes a 3.75% increase in 2022, and a 5.55% annual increase through 2026.
Council Member David Mann proposed an alternate plan to increase the rate for the first year only. He says replacing lead pipes in the city is a top priority.
"So far we've not been advised what part of the proposed rate increase has anything to do with that," Mann said. "And I agree that's an important program, and I would be more supportive if someone could say, could substantiate, the proposition that the rate increase is only about the services lines."
Betsy Sundermann agreed with Mann.
"Of course we all think lead pipes should be replaced, but we can't just give people whatever they want without them showing us what the money is going to be used for," Sundermann said. "We owe the taxpayers more than just giving organizations what they say they need."
Steve Goodin joined Mann and Sundermann in voting against the five-year rate increase.
Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney said her vote came down to how much it costs to replace a lead service line. Right now, the city will pay between 40% and 70% of the cost for replacing the lines, but homeowners are responsible for the rest.
"We really need Greater Cincinnati Water Works to take on that 100% cost and that's what the five-year increase does," Kearney said. "The one-year increase does not do that, so we will still be stuck with a lot of low- and moderate-income families that still have lead pipes and that is just not acceptable."
City Manager Pay Raise
The budget also includes a 5% pay increase for City Manager Paula Boggs Muething, added to the budget by Mayor John Cranley. An attempt to remove that raise failed in committee Monday with a 5-3 vote, with some council members saying Boggs Muething should undergo a performance review before getting a raise.
Council established a process for reviewing the city manager in 2016, before most current members were elected or appointed. The city solicitor's office says that process is not mandatory.
At Goodin's suggestion, council approved adding a line to the budget that says council intends to do a performance review for Boggs Muething no later than mid-November. Greg Landsman says the review will happen in September. It's not yet clear whether that will be a public meeting or conducted via executive session.
$50,000 For Film Set Security
Separate from the FY 2022 budget, council approved $50,000 for the Film Commission to provide additional security for the movie Bones And All, currently being filmed in Cincinnati. The funds come from the unappropriated surplus of the fiscal year that ends next week.
A representative of the film's production said several vehicles have been broken into, and items stolen including a handgun.
Council voted 7-2 to approve the immediate funding, with Chris Seelbach and Goodin voting against it.
What's In The Budget?
Within the operating budget is the General Fund of about $441 million. Here's how that breaks down:
Police: $166,033,390 (11% of the total budget, 39% of the General Fund)
Fire: $134,799,970 (9% of the total budget, 32% of the General Fund)
City Manager's Office: $31,776,840
Public Services: $15,871,890
Buildings and Inspections: $10,601,050
Enterprise Technology Solutions: $6,149,360
Community & Economic Development: $3,096,230
Transportation and Engineering: $2,708,390
Human Resources: $2,573,130
City Council: $2,213,310
Economic Inclusion: $2,069,090
Citizen Complaint Authority: $940,080
Office of the Mayor: $908,220
Clerk of Council: $673,540
City Planning: $509,050