Cincinnati City Council approved a plan Wednesday for how to appropriate $20.3 million carried over from last year's city budget.
About $6.4 million is being set aside as a carryover for the current fiscal year budget, and $11.2 million will be placed in the city's reserve accounts.
But $2.5 million of the money going to reserves has been pledged, if needed, to repay an emergency loan the city secured to balance the current year budget. Most of that loan is being covered with grant dollars the city is getting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's absolutely incredible, and awesome, that this administration and this City Council has worked together through the worst crisis that I have ever know in my professional life of COVID, the economy, gun violence and racial unrest, and are adding $9 million to our reserves," Mayor John Cranley said. "And we are not using any of the one-time borrowed funds. That's an incredible accomplishment."
There's also $2.7 million to cover one-time spending items, including $1 million for police to spend on gun violence reduction initiatives.
That $1 million for the police department includes $200,000 to fund community safety organizers within the department, and $100,000 for a second lawyer to work in the local U.S. Attorney's Office to pursue federal gun charges against some of those being arrested in the city. There's also $700,000 for additional police visibility overtime.
Council Member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney wanted a separate vote on the $700,000 for additional overtime. She was not able to secure that separate vote.
"The gun violence issue is because of high unemployment and poverty and the fact that people are struggling," Kearney said. "And I don't think we can ask our police to fix that. They can't fix that problem. And so, the $700,000 is the part that really bothers me. Because it's for more police presence and we're asking them to fix a problem that is really not in their realm to fix."
The city ended the last fiscal year with a $20.3 million carryover in large part because of spending cutbacks and temporary furloughs for some 300-400 full-time city employees to save money. Many part-time positions were left vacant to save money.