Here's how Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black plans to fill city's $26M budget hole

No layoffs, service cuts in proposed city budget
Posted at 11:02 AM, May 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-11 19:38:05-04

CINCINNATI -- The city won’t nix any of its employees, services or facilities – despite a $26 million budget hole – under Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black’s proposed budget for next year.

Black unveiled a $1.1 billion balanced operating budget Thursday. His budget plan avoids any city employee furloughs, layoffs or deep cuts to the city’s services, such as health centers or pools.

The city is facing a tough budget this year because of lackluster income tax collections, which fell $15.6 million short of projections, unexpected raises the city mayor and manager doled out last year, and possible state or federal funding cuts in the near future. 

Black said cuts will still have to be made to plug the multi-million dollar deficit the city faces in next year’s budget cycle, which begins in July. He warned Thursday the city will continue to face tough budget cycles if new revenues are not realized.

"You can't keep cutting," Black said. "I think we're at a dangerous point." 

Some of the highlights:

• To avoid a shortfall, the city’s non-union employees won’t receive the 4 percent raise Cincinnati City Council had already approved. Black is instead proposing non-union employees not be eligible for merit raises, and see only a 1 percent cost-of-living increase next year. 

The move will save the city $1.3 million next year.

“This is necessitated by the difficult budget circumstance and will undoubtedly compound morale, as well as pay compression issues amongst our staff,” Black wrote in the budget.

• A plan to hire a new police recruit class will be postponed for six months, at a savings of $2.3 million.

• The city’s residents and visitors, too, could end up paying more under the budget plan – at least when it comes to parking.

Under Black’s plan, parking tickets could increase from $45 to $60, which would generate an estimated $900,000 for the city.

Additionally, parking meters could be raised. In a press conference Thursday, Black said the average increase for a meter would be 25 cents an hour. That’s estimated to give the city an extra $645,000 to work with.

• Building and inspection permits, fees will increase by 2.4 percent, which will generate an anticipated $300,000 extra for the city.

• Black is recommending all outside groups – from the United Way to the city’s neighborhood community councils – will receive an across-the-board 25 percent cut. That saves the city $1.7 million next year.

The Center for Closing the Health Gap, which has faced increased scrutiny over its spending practices of city tax dollars following two WCPO and Enquirer investigations, will receive the $750,000 it requested in next year’s budget.

The budget will still need to get approval from Cincinnati City Council before it's finalized. 

WCPO will update this story with more information as it becomes available.