Council approves 2011 budget

CINCINNATI - The same 5-4 vote that moved the budget out of committee wascast for the budget's final passage Thursday night.

Council closed a $54 million hole by borrowing from the city'sreserves and the workers compensation fund.

At total of $27 million in one-time sources were tapped to makethe budget a reality.

The budget also borrows $5 million from a Tax IncrementFinancing District or TIF fund for Cincinnati Public Schoolsinstead of using general fund dollars.

$2.8 million unused funds from the police department and a cutof $1.7 million to police overtime.

Fire and police budgets are expected to reduce throughattrition. 

This all came on the heels of Wednesday's motion vote to approvea 2011-12 budget. Council had to approve 14 separate ordinancescontained within.

Cincinnati's Legal and Finance departments worked on the budgetproposal Thursday to prepare the final draft for the committee'sformal vote.

Councilman Chris Bortz recused himself from voting on Ordinance#1 which provides $100,000 in funds that could be used to study thestreetcar proposal.

Bortz has business interests that could stand to benefit fromthe construction of the streetcar.

Councilman Charlie Winburn who voted yes on Wednesday night'smotion to move forward with the budget broke with the other yesvotes to vote no on Ordinance #1.

Winburn has been a critic of the streetcar.

The Cincinnati Budget and Finance Committee approved the 2011-12budget proposal at 7:25 p.m.

A special session of city council convened immediately afterwardto vote the budget into effect.

The process was almost derailed when Cecil Thomas threatened tovote no on one ordinance that would turn a jailable misdemeanoroffense for marijuana possession into minor misdemeanor payouttickets.

Thomas said he thought that every jailable offense was beingeliminated when, in fact, it was only the marijuana offense.

Thomas, who chairs the Law Committee, created the plan which onecouncilmember privately called "his pet."

The threatened no vote stunned both those who support the budgetproposal and those who don't.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls quickly recessed the meeting andinternal talks began with Thomas.

During the break, councilmember Chris Bortz railed against thosewho, last night, accused him of ideological entrenchment suggestingthat what was happening was the same thing.

Thomas came back after twenty minutes or more and as he put it"in the interest of moving forward" voted yes on the ordinance.

Councilmember Charlie Winburn raised the hackles of some of hismore tenured colleagues when he suggested that they stood by whileprevious councils passed structurally imbalanced budgets.

Bortz and councilmember Jeff Berding reminded Winburn that theycast no-votes during those years and he was wrong to point thefinger at them.

Before the council voted on the ordinances that comprised thebudget, they tackled forty separate motions designed to save thecity money.

Council failed a motion submitted by Vice Mayor Qualls thatwould have transferred the funding of outdoor parks and play spacesfrom the Cincinnati Recreation Department to the Cincinnati ParksDepartment.

Some motions passed include:

An initiative to study whether to put out for bid the city'sRisk Management Division.

That the city of Cincinnati not increase by $5 the fee chargedto busineses for off-duty police details.  Instead the $5 willbe charged to the off-duty officers who use city-issued equipmentand uniforms.

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