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Here's what Cincinnati Council wants added to the city budget

Becca Costello

Cincinnati Council is so far suggesting no cuts to the recommended budget for next fiscal year. Instead, council members have each proposed additional budget items using money left over from last year’s American Rescue Plan stimulus, plus some “wiggle room” in the city’s capital budget. That adds up to about $1.4 million.

Each council member submitted a motion with requested additions. Greg Landsman wants to use $200,000 to increase wages for police recruits.

“We have two recruit classes; one of the challenges is going to be filling up those classes,” Landsman said. “The increased salary is much more, I'm told, much more of an incentive for officers than the bonus.”

Related: Draft budget includes police, fire recruits and a record-high human services fund

Most budget additions are for more funding for non-profit organizations. The mayor and city manager’s budget draft includes more than $17 million for this kind of “leveraged support.”

Council Member Liz Keating says allocating money for more organizations isn’t the best path.

“If we call out certain organizations here and then let others go other places, we're not being equitable, and we're not being strategic on how those dollars are being spent,” Keating said. “So I would say we decide if the nearly $8 million in the human services funding is enough, or if we don't think it is, let's put more money into that bucket and have them all be vetted through the same process to determine where it's needed most.”

Keating’s only budget request is a new full-time staff member in the Office of Performance and Data Analytics, saying the city needs to start working today to become more efficient before facing major budget shortfalls when stimulus money runs out in a couple years.

Mark Jeffreys is also requesting a new position, one dedicated to the issue he says is the top priority for neighborhoods: pedestrian safety.

“What is the one barrier to moving the needle on it? People,” Jeffreys said. “We have one person who's awesome, Mel McVey, but just one person for 52 neighborhoods.”

Council member requests range from $100,000 to $2.2 million, which is well above the $1,425,000 available without making cuts to the draft proposed by Interim City Manager John Curp and Mayor Aftab Pureval.

There’s some overlap in council member requests. Here are a few examples:

  • More funding for the entrepreneurship nonprofit MORTAR (five council members)
  • Funding for Black Achievers, a professional networking group (five council members)
  • Funding for Artworks to build a permanent home in Walnut Hills (three council members)
  • Funding for the Robert O’Neal Multicultural Art Center (three council members)

You can see each council member’s budget request online:

Council plans to vote on the final budget in committee Tuesday, with a full council vote the following day.

Some council members are also proposing priorities, or even specific dollar amounts, for the carryover budget. The city won't know how much is left over until at least a month or two after fiscal year 2022 ends on June 30. The carryover budget is typically determined in September.

City officials declined to estimate how much the carryover will be this year, but it's expected to be much higher than usual because revenue is higher than the dire predictions of last year.

Updated: June 17, 2022 at 1:08 PM EDT
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.