Cincinnati budgets presentations starting sooner rather than later

Apr 14, 2014

Cincinnati budget officials are working to put together the city's spending plan for the next fiscal year.  Department heads will likely begin making presentations to Council about their budgets in two weeks.  

Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Charlie Winburn had suggested those half hour presentations start at the end of May.  But council members wanted more time for the process so the schedule was changed.

Council member Kevin Flynn asked for the additional time.  He said the previous schedule was not aggressive enough.

“You know it takes a half hour for council members to get their say, the departments aren’t going to get any say if we limit it to a half hour,” Flynn said.  “There’s going to be a lot of questions.”

Acting city budget director Peggy Sandman said city officials wanted the later start after the interim city manager releases his budget on May 8th.

“Which would provide a uniform presentation for all of the departments, and it would provide the context of the recommendation,” Sandman said.  “If there are reductions in the budget, then there would be opportunities to discuss that as opposed to seeing that for some, but not for all.”

Right now the city is projected to have a $21.1 million deficit in the city's general fund, which pays for basic services like police, fire and public works.  

City officials are working on having a structurally balanced budget, which means the city will spend the same amount of money as it collects in revenue.  Recent city budgets have been balanced with one-time sources or shifting expenses to different years.  

Winburn said he believes Council will pass a structurally balanced budget by the end of June.

“I think we can probably prevent a lot of layoffs if we can do this strategically,” Winburn said.  “I’m so impressed with the administration.  They asked for department heads to cut seven to 10 percent out of their budgets, I think that’s huge.”

Interim City Manager Scott Stiles is scheduled to present his budget to Mayor John Cranley on May 8th.  Cranley then has 15 days to review it before sending the plan to Council Public hearings on the budget will be held in early June.