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Proposed City of Cincinnati budget slashes funds to community do-gooders

City manager sends proposed $1.4 billion budget to mayor
Posted at 3:27 PM, May 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-10 19:22:28-04

Two dozen local non-profits and agencies that work to improve the quality of life in Cincinnati would be big losers in City Manager Patrick Duhaney's proposed $1.4 billion budget for fiscal year 2020.

Citing a "dire" outlook caused by an $18.9 million deficit, Duhaney said his proposed general fund budget required $14 million in spending cuts, including slashing the “vast majority” of leveraged support. The administration cut more than $2.5 million in targeted contributions to 26 groups, leaving many with nothing.

SEE the budget documents here. (See below or Page 44, Table IV for leveraged support list.)

The biggest losers would be Keep Cincinnati Beautiful ($399,650), African American Chamber of Commerce ($325,000), Regional Economic Development Initiative ($250,000), Cincinnati Works ($250,000) and Summer Youth Jobs Initiative ($247,684).

"It's the equivalent of being dropped in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when you lose 55% of your funding," Jonathan Adee of Keep Cincinnati Beautiful said.

Adee and Eric Kearney, the CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce, said they intend to prove their worth to the city.

"I have to explain to the City of Cincinnati the value that we bring and how we're helping businesses," Kearney said.

Other losers would include Violence Prevention Program administered by United Way ($187,500), Needle Exchange Program ($150,000) and Community Development Corporations Association of Greater Cincinnati ($143,700).

Even 3CDC ($57,820) and the Film Commission ($56,250) would lose.

The biggest winner would be the City Human Services Fund administered by United Way, whose contribution would increase $920,000 to $4.8 million.

“This decision was not made lightly,” Duhaney said in his budget message to Mayor John Cranley. “We know many of the organizations that traditionally receive leveraged support do tremendous work in and for our community. This cut was difficult to make but necessary given the circumstances.”

Looking on the bright side, Duhaney said the proposed budget he sent to Cranley on Thursday maintains or enhances essential core services and avoids harsh cuts to popular city services. Duhaney's proposal includes a $1.1 billion general operating budget and a $295.3 million capital budget.

The operating budget, Duhaney said, maintains core services by:

  • Continuing to invest in public safety through police, fire, and emergency communications operations. The budget supports a new 30-person police recruit class to begin in November 2019, and additional staffing and technological improvements in the Emergency Communications Center.
  • Adding resources to the Department of Public Services for litter collection, pothole repair and landslide cleanup response, including 12 full-time employees and "significant" funding for material and equipment related to those needs.
  • Prioritizing pedestrian safety and landslide mitigation efforts.
  • Budgeting 1.2% of general fund revenue toward human services.
  • Maintaining all recreation centers, pools, parks and health centers.

An unexpected $8 million windfall in the city income tax in the third and fourth quarters will help cover additional costs in fiscal year 2020, Duhaney said.

“Our strong economy and job growth are paying dividends which has allowed us to avoid severe reductions in this budget,” Duhaney said.

Noting that the city “has exhausted almost all of its revenue-enhancing mechanisms,” Duhaney proposed eliminating the $1.05 per ticket exemption on admission tax, saying it would result in an estimated $200,000 increase to the general fund.

Proposed spending cuts include:

  • Eliminating 67.25 full-time employees in the general fund, including nine currently filled positions. He called the eliminated positions “administrative in nature” and “do not directly impact the delivery of core services.” Displaced employees have been offered a vacant position within the City, though some are at a lower pay rate than their current salary.
  • Freezing vacant positions.
  • Shifting eligible General Fund expenses to various restricted funds. In one instance, the Parks Department and the Recreation will Department use special revenue funds to pay direct expenditures related to the funds' purposes.

Here’s How The Budgeting Process Works

The City’s fiscal year starts on July 1 and runs through June 30. Every other year, the City develops a biennial budget. Following approval of the biennial budget, an update to the second year of the biennium is developed and approved.

A structurally balanced, recommended budget is prepared by the city administration and submitted to the mayor, who can change it.

Within 15 days, the mayor presents the “mayor’s budget’ to City Council. Council hosts citizen engagement sessions and evaluates the mayor’s budget, which usually leads to give-and-take, before voting on it.

Council's Budget and Finance Committee has scheduled three public hearings on the budget:

Wednesday, May 29 – 6 p.m.
LeBlond Recreation Center, 2335 Riverside Drive

Monday, June 3 – 6 p.m.
UC Innovation Hub, 2900 Reading Road

Tuesday, June 4 – 6 p.m.
MadCap Theatre, 3064 Harrison Ave.