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How should city spend, save $19M?

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Posted at 8:01 PM, Oct 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-12 20:01:44-04

No one objected to City Manager Harry Black’s plan to save a $13 million chunk of the extra $19 million Cincinnati has left over from last year’s budget.

But city leaders didn’t entirely agree Monday on how they will spend the extra $6 million on hand.

Much of that $6 million will help pay for public safety projects: $2 million has already been set aside to upgrade technology in police cruisers. Another $2 million will pay to outfit the police force with new body cameras.

More than $1 million, however, will pay for projects for which council members requested funding during the last year. Those projects range from $50,000 to re-start the Cincinnati Police Department’s mounted horse patrol to a $125,000 allocation for converting a portion of Main Street to a two-way road.

Despite the surplus, city leaders still don’t know how they will pay for new fire department recruits they plan to hire early next year. Black presented a plan Monday to start a new recruit class, which could mean as many as 40 new firefighters in February.

Councilman Kevin Flynn introduced a plan Monday to take away $1 million from some of the proposed projects and, instead, funnel that money to the fire department to hire new recruits.

“There’s no money for a fire recruit class in 2016,” Flynn said during Monday’s budget and finance committee meeting. “We’re just spending the way we spend every time we have money in the budget because of particular members’ wants and desires.”

Flynn’s proposal failed in a 4-to-2 vote Monday, with several committee members saying they feel confident they’ll find money in the budget to accommodate the incoming recruit class. The city has a more than $350 million yearly operating budget.

“I can’t imagine that we don’t think, somewhere in our budget, that we can find the funds we’re taking about here,” said Vice Mayor David Mann during Monday’s meeting.

Here’s a look at where all of that $19 million will go, if approved by city council:

Public Safety

> $2 million already approved to upgrade police cruiser technology

> $2 million to be spent outfitting police with body cameras

> $50,000 for start-up costs with the police mounted patrol 

> $500,000 for additional police overtime

> $200,000 for a witness protection program

> $150,000 for heroin treatment and Narcan kits

> $175,000 for an ex-offender re-entry program in partnership with Hamilton County

> $150,000 for a data scientist to analyze crime statistics

> $150,000 for a community outreach program to reduce crime and violence in teens

Community Programming

> $250,000 for a youth job training program

> $100,000 for a family homelessness project

> $50,000 to study housing needs in the Walnut Hill neighborhood

> $100,000 for an energy efficiency program to help low-income renters

Infrastructure

> $125,000 to convert Main Street north of 12th street to two-way traffic