CINCINNATI - A Cincinnati city councilman said Tuesday that he has enough votes on the group to save funding for horse-mounted police patrols.
Councilman Chris Seelbach said he has commitments from seven out of nine council members to keep the patrols, which have been a staple downtown for years.
"I'm proud and happy to report that the mounted patrol will be funded," Seelbach told WCPO. "The mounted patrol is not only an important part of making Cincinnati a safe place to live and work, it also plays a critical role in bridging relations between the Cincinnati police and the Greater Cincinnati community."
The city of Cincinnati is facing a $34 million deficit next year, and City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. is recommending several changes to close the shortfall.
One of the changes was eliminating the horse-mounted patrols. If approved, the city would save $188,350 annually by eliminating the horse-mounted patrol.
Also, officers would be reassigned to other duties, and none would lose their jobs.
Seelbach, however, said the patrols should be kept and that the savings can be found elsewhere in the budget. His proposal calls for spending $105,000 annually instead of $188,000, because the city has received offers to board the horses for less money than currently spent.
Council likely will approve a budget during a special session scheduled for Dec. 14.
Before Seelbach's motion, WCPO asked city administrators how the department's horses would be disposed of if the patrol was eliminated.
Some animal rights activists and others had been concerned the horses might be put up for auction. Such horses often are sold for their meat, which is a common food in other nations.
City Spokeswoman Meg Olberding said that how the horses are sold would be carefully monitored, if the budget cuts occur.
"The city manager has promised to council that horses will be dealt with humanely," Olberding said. "These are very much like we treat our canine unit — part of the force and will be treated with respect. We do not have a plan yet, but are developing one."