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Public input on the Cincinnati budget is starting early this year

cincinnati city hall
Becca Costello

The public discussion about Cincinnati's budget will begin earlier than usual this year. The first public hearing is set for April 4 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Budget and Finance Chair Greg Landsman says he wants to hear from residents before the administration makes the first draft of the budget.

"We'll still do the regular budget hearings closer to the time when we take up the budget as a council," Landsman said. "We usually do three in various places throughout the city; we'll do that again this year, but we wanted to start the process earlier."

The budget process begins with the city manager (in this case, Interim City Manager John Curp), who prepares the first draft of the budget. That will be passed along to Mayor Aftab Pureval, who has the option to make any changes before it goes to council.

(Note: a recent report from the National Civic League says Cincinnati's mayor has more involvement in the budgeting process than in most council-manager systems of government. The report recommends scaling back the mayor's powers by removing this "preview" step, saying the mayor should review annual budgets in the same manner as council members, as a body.)

The amended budget draft gets sent to City Council, which is where the public input part of the process takes place. Council has ultimate authority over the budget and must reach a majority agreement (five of nine council members) to approve the spending plan.

Council doesn't usually make significant changes to the administration's plan; Landsman says he hopes including residents before that draft is released will give more weight to resident priorities.

Council is required to pass the fiscal year budget by the end of June; fiscal year 2023 begins July 1.

City officials are also hosting three virtual meetings to explain the structure of the city budget and how to give input.

Related: How to understand Cincinnati's $1.5 billion 2022-23 budget

Staff from the Office of Budget and Evaluation and Department of City Planning and Engagement will lead the meetings. All three meetings will cover the same content, although the final meeting will also include the Community Budget Request (CBR) process.

"The CBR process encourages community councils to provide suggestions on funding projects for the biennial budget that are paramount to the preservation and/or revitalization of their neighborhood," Curp said in a statement.

The meetings take place:

  • Thursday, March 10 from 6-7:30 p.m.
  • Monday, March 28 from 6-7:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 6 from 6-7:30 p.m. (for community councils)

Registration is required: https://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/finance/cincinnati-budget-engagement/

Updated: April 4, 2022 at 9:11 AM EDT
This article has been updated to reflect a change in location for the first public budget hearing.
Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.