Cincinnati City Council passes budget but can't decide on water rate hike

CINCINNATI  - City Council passed the city's first structurally balanced budget in 10 years Wednesday but couldn't decide how to pay the water bill.

Motions to pass the 7.5 percent rate increase sought by the Water Works and a 4 percent compromise offered by Vice Mayor David Mann fell by the wayside. Another vote could be taken next week.

The 4 percent hike fell one vote short, with Mann joined by P.G. Sittenfeld, Chris Seelbach and Kevin Flynn. Only Flynn and Yvette Simpson voted for a 7.5 percent hike.

Water Works says it needs the money to repair infrastructure. It has its own fund separate from the general fund.

RELATED: Water Works needs rate hike, blames us

The $358.2-million budget for FY2015 includes more money for basic services - police, fire and fixing potholes. It also guarantees all city pools will stay open.

No layoffs will be required.

The city will pay for it by cutting department budgets by an average of 4.4 percent, writing more parking tickets and creating new fees for businesses.

The city will also save  $7.1 million by reducing its retirement fund contribution. To offset that, the city plans to  transfer up to $100 million from the health care trust to the pension trust – a move that still needs court approval.

Simpson voted against the budget and Flynn and Seelbach voted against parts of it.

RELATED: Judge could unbalance budget

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