Updated: 12:55 p.m.
As promised, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley vetoed an ordinance council approved making about $5.4 million in changes to the current budget.
"If council believes that they’re right, and I'm wrong that they should spend on these items, they've got to make the hard choices," Cranley said. "They've got to tell us what they're going to cut. Money doesn't grow on trees."
The mayor said he is hopeful council won't override his veto and instead will vote on several ordinances pending on the council calendar to fund many of the items in the omnibus plan he rejected. That includes money for starting the next police recruit class three months early; money to expand ShotSpotter to Price Hill; and funding to upgrade the city's radio communication system.
Cranley is particularly upset about more than $700,000 of spending city council approved in June that was covered with a new billboard tax. But a Hamilton County judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing the city from imposing that tax and therefore the city is not getting that revenue. The acting city manager and the mayor proposed cutting spending by that amount to balance the budget.
However, a council majority restored that funding in the omnibus ordinance and even added to it. Cranley is particularly upset with $700,000 directed to the Center for Closing the Health Gap. Some council members have defended the Health Gap and the important work is does in some city neighborhoods.
"Prove it and I'd love to be educated otherwise if there are great results that I don't know about," Cranley said. "Second, regardless, they should compete like everybody else, and third, if it's that big of a priority they should tell us what they're going to cut in the city budget that is less important."
Council will need six votes to override the veto, and only five members voted to approve the spending ordinance. Right now, without changes to the proposal, gaining an extra vote appears unlikely.
P.G. Sittenfeld said on Twitter council members "will need to do a gut-check on their values at next week's vote."
All Council Members will need to do a gut-check on their values at next week's vote. https://t.co/oD9HNYaO7R
— P.G. Sittenfeld (@PGSittenfeld) October 11, 2018
"I think citizens are rightly very concerned about vetoing an ordinance that funds cops and expands ShotSpotter, supports our homeless, provides eviction protection, spurs job creation, and increases our reserves," Sittenfeld said in a tweet. "People want governing, not grudges."
Mayor Cranley also vetoed an ordinance Thursday that would have provided the final funding needed to complete the Liberty Street road diet.
Supporters of that plan have been working on it for more than six years to make the route friendlier for pedestrians and bicyclists. The proposal was ready to go until city administrators said they needed almost an additional $1 million to move a water line for the project. A council majority found that source of funding from an Over-the-Rhine tax increment financing account, but it only passed with five council votes, and Cranley rejected it.