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Mann: Police OT during protests will add $3M to whopping Cincinnati budget deficit

Shortfall of $75M to $90M already attributed to COVID-19
Protests and police at District 1_2.jpg
Posted at 1:05 AM, Jun 10, 2020

CINCINNATI — Councilmember David Mann says he expects police overtime during the recent protests to add $3 million to the enormous budget deficit facing the city next month because of COVID-19.

Mann and other city leaders warn that deep cuts are coming when the city manager presents the budget to City Council on Thursday.

“Personally I don’t think everyone is going to be happy with the budget,” Councilmember Jeff Pastor said.

Pastor fears cuts will hurt in places where help is needed the most, like public services.

“This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue. This is a human issue. We don’t have the money,” Pastor said. “And a lot of people are feeling the pain.”

The police overtime comes on top of a $75 million to $90 million deficit attributed to the loss in city income tax during the pandemic and additional expenses due to the coronavirus.

Cincinnati police earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime during just the first two days of recent central-city protests against police brutality, according to Duhaney.

In a Tuesday memo to the mayor and council, Duhaney said "most" of the total of $426,361 in police overtime during Pay Period 12 (May 17-30) occurred on May 29 and May 30 – the first two days of protests in Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

“I knew it was going to be a lot,” Mann said. “That’s just the first two days of the curfew and the extra policing that was necessary.”

Duhaney said a total overtime report is forthcoming. Daily protests and demonstrations continued in earnest through June 7, and overtime costs for those days have yet to be determined, Duhaney said. That will be available June 23 when the OT report for Pay Period 13 (May 31 to June 13) posts to the city’s financial system.

Why the overtime? Police Chief Eliot Isaac mandated officers to work shifts of 12 hours on, 12 hours off, and no days off during the protests.

The city does have about $45 million in reserves, but that money is used to help secure a high bond rating. So officials will turn to grant dollars to try to ease the burden.

Pastor is also hoping for a shot in the arm from the federal government.

"If you’re going to be doling out taxpayer dollars to bail out Wall Street, the best use of those funds is to bail out old Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus,” Pastor said. “These folks need it. By no fault of their own, they’ve been asked to sit out in their home for almost three months, and only receive 12-hundred bucks.”

Asked what department funding would be cut, Mann demurred.

“Let’s just say there’s some proposals that hang together, and get us through," Mann said.

But Mann said the price of a pandemic and protests will be felt for years to come.

Once the budget is introduced on Thursday, it will be reviewed on Monday in the Budget and Finance Committee chaired by Mann.

The public will be able to share their thoughts next Tuesday and Thursday at the Convention Center.