Cincinnati City Manager Patrick Duhaney sent his budget proposal to Mayor John Cranley Thursday.
The operating budget totals $1.1 billion for all funds, and specifically $412.1 million for the general fund, which pays for things like public safety, trash collection and snow removal.
Originally the general fund was projected to have a deficit of $18.9 million, but that was reduced because of a better forecast for income tax collections for the fiscal year, which starts July 1.
"It is fair to say that at times this budget looked dire; however, I am pleased to announce that despite that rough outlook, we are not proposing the closure of any recreation centers, pools, parks, or the shuttering of any health centers," Duhaney wrote in his budget message to the mayor and city council members. "Additionally, no layoffs or furloughs are proposed in this budget. To make this possible, however, numerous vacant positions were eliminated, and several employees may be shifted to existing vacant positions within the organization to reduce cost in the general fund."
Revenue increases include:
- The income tax forecast was increased by $8 million
- Eliminating the $1.05 per ticket exemption on admission tax, which generates $200,000
Expenditure reductions of $16 million include:
- Eliminating 67.25 full-time employees in the general fund, nine of which are currently filled. Those being displaced would be offered different jobs with the city, but some could have a lower pay rate.
- Freezing vacant positions
- Proposing an additional 20% rate increase to fund capital eligible Stormwater Management (SMU) expenditures and shift general fund eligible expenditures to the Stormwater Management Fund. That would mean about a $1.15 increase per month for residents.
- The removal of the vast majority of leveraged support for neighborhoods, economic development and human services/violence prevention (see chart). Duhaney did note the plan "includes 1.2 percent of general fund revenue budgeted toward human services funding."
- Shifting eligible general fund expenses to various restricted funds (money that can only be used for certain expenses)
Other budget highlights:
- Ohio's statewide gas and diesel tax increase benefits the city, too. And the manager proposed using that money to hire an additional 12 employees plus material and equipment for road maintenance.
- There would be a new police recruit class with 30 members that would start in November
- A $5 per license plate fee is being proposed for vehicle owners in the city. That would generate $1.2 million and would be used to repair, maintain and improve the city's rights-of-way. Ohio lawmakers recently approved this fee.
While there were spending cuts, an additional $2.3 million was added to the general fund. That money is needed for software licenses, backing up city network servers, and four additional employees. Two of those employees will be dedicated toward improving the emergency communications center.
Mayor John Cranley will now review Duhaney's proposal and decide if he wants to make changes to it. The mayor has 15 days to review it, but is expected to send the budget to city council next week.
Council's Budget and Finance Committee is holding public hearings on May 29 at LeBlond Recreation Center; June 3 at UC Innovation Hub; and June 4 at Madcap Theatre. All the sessions begin at 6 p.m.
The full city council is expected to approve a budget on June 19.