Bigger crowd, more speakers for 2nd city budget hearing
There was a larger turnout for Wednesday night's second public hearing on the proposed Cincinnati budget for the next fiscal year which starts July 1st.
20 people addressed Council's Budget and Finance Committee during the session at the Oakley Community Center.
Evanston Community Council President Anzora Adkins said she supports city funding for the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority. She said it has done good work in her neighborhood.
“The Hamilton County Port Authority has been an integral part in revitalizing Evanston’s housing and commercial markets,” Adkins said. “It is Hamilton County Port Authority which has the specific role and ability to return otherwise vacant and abandoned property to a positive community use.”
Interim city manager Scott Stiles and Mayor John Cranley did not include $6 million Council wanted to go to the Port. Some members are negotiating ways to insert that money back into the budget.
Several speakers were in favor of continued city funding for a program that makes improvements to neighborhood business districts.
Madisonville resident Sara Sheets said the city is beginning to attract new residents and funds for neighborhoods allow that growth to continue.
“Those of us who work in this field on a daily basis, whether paid or unpaid, perform miracles everyday with the limited resources that we have,” Sheets said. “My concern is that if we take tools like the neighborhood business district improvement program away, we’re just going to be left with not much to get work done.”
City Health Board Member Camille Graham asked Council not to eliminate 15 currently vacant positions at the health department. She said the city needs to guarantee the safety of its residents.
“You’re doing a great job by making sure we have enough police and fire protection,” Graham said. “But the city also has an obligation to guarantee the public health of its citizens and the current budget jeopardizes the public health.”
Several Madisonville residents also expressed opposition to the Redbank Expressway that is included in the Eastern Corridor proposal even though it has nothing to do with the city budget. It is an Ohio Department of Transportation project.
Other speakers asked Council to keep the current definition for its bicycle program and to provide new city funding for the Cincinnati Works program, which provides job training and assistance with careers.
The public will get one final chance to address Council about the budget next Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, the committee will begin its deliberation on the spending plan during a special meeting Monday from noon to 6. Another session is planned for Tuesday from noon to 4:30.
The council is expected to approve the 2015 budget during its weekly meeting next Wednesday.
Mayor Cranley released his spending proposal two weeks ago, which largely endorsed a structurally balanced budget proposal from interim city manager Stiles. Cranley did make some adjustments to the plan before sending it on to city council for consideration.
The proposal has about $22 million in budget reductions and about $3 million of revenue increases, largely from fees for some city services. The budget focuses on basics like police, fire and public services.
Cranley said the plan was put together without threats of massive layoffs and closing city swimming pools.