Cincy manager reduces layoffs in his budget plan

May 9, 2013

Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney Thursday presented his proposed budget for the new fiscal year that begins on July 1st.   His plan included layoffs for 201 city employees, but that’s down from the 344 he first discussed last month.

Dohoney’s budget plan was given to Mayor Mark Mallory, who now has ten days to review it and make changes before sending it to City Council.

The city manager’s recommendation reduces the projected police department layoff numbers from 149 to 66.  Fire personnel layoffs have been reduced from 118 to 71.  

The number of police layoffs should not trigger a default on a federal COPS Hiring Grant.  The manager also would eliminate the city’s mounted patrol and those officers would be redeployed to other assignments.

The fire department reductions will mean the city will have to pay back $1.6 million from a SAFER grant it received from FEMA.  The fire layoffs will result in about ten brownouts a day, in which one truck in a firehouse does not operate.

In a press release, the manager stated the $35 million deficit was closed through staff reductions, reduction of funded positions that are vacant, furlough days for city management, reductions to funding to outside agencies, departmental savings, use of casino money, use of carryover from the 2013 fiscal year, and a series of 2014 expenditure reductions and 2014 revenue adjustment and enhancements.

City Council approved Dohoney’s proposal in March to lease most of the city’s parking facilities to the Port Authority of Greater Cincinnati.  The manager planned to use $25 million from the proposal to help balance the upcoming budget without massive reductions.  But opponents of the plan filed suit, and a Hamilton County judge issued a permanent injunction against the plan until residents have a chance to vote on the issue.  The city has appealed and a decision in that case is expected soon.

“While balancing a budget deficit with mostly cuts is not preferred, the timing of the new fiscal year coupled with the timing of the litigation over the parking deal makes it the only real option with a number this large,” Dohoney said in the release.  “Our goal is going to be to recall staff as soon as possible and provide the best customer service we can deliver for the citizens in the meantime.”

The manager’s plan includes reducing funding for human services, the neighborhood support program, the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the African American Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Cincinnati Film Commission, and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful.  There would also be no funding for arts in fiscal years 2014 or 2015.

Dohoney also wants to stop the subsidy for city services for “Heritage Events” which include the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Black Family Reunion and Juneteenth.

The manager proposed closing five city swimming pools after the 2013 season, and the Bush Recreation Center in Walnut Hills would be closed.

His plan also asks city employees to pay five percent more for their healthcare and cost of living adjustments would be reduced.  

Dohoney seeks additional revenues by charging a $25 late fee for income tax filers that submit their income tax return after the filing deadline, increasing the Krohn Conservatory admission fee by 50 cents and he again wants Council to increase the city property tax rate to the 6.1 mills allowed by the City Charter.  That increase would benefit the next fiscal year budget.  The manager proposes a 5.5 percent water rate increase to take effect on January 1st.

City Council must approve a spending plan by June 1st in order for it to be in place by July 1st.

Council’s Budget and Finance Committee will hold public hearings May 16th at the Duke Energy Convention Center, May 20th at the College Hill Recreation Center and May 22nd at the Madisonville Recreation Center.  All the hearings will start at 6:30 p.m.