Proposed Cincinnati Budget 'Frugal' But No Closures Or Layoffs

May 11, 2017

Frugal but structurally balanced. That's how Cincinnati's City Manager is describing his proposed 2018-2019 budget.

The $1.6 billion All Funds budget closes a projected $26 million shortfall in the 2018 General Fund without cutting services or laying off employees, according to City Manager Harry Black.

"We're recommending a structurally balanced budget that does not recommend closing any facilities, reducing any services, laying off employees or furloughing employees," says Black. "This is our best effort at avoiding having to do those things."

In order to close the deficit, Black is recommending:

  • Increasing building permit fees (projected to add $2.4 million in revenue).
  • Increase parking tickets from $45 to $60 (adds $900,000).
  • Contract with booting service for fine enforcement rather than towing (adds $600,000).
  • Raising parking meter rates an average of 25 cents per hour (adds $640,000).
  • Various other revenues performing better than projected (adds $486,000).
  • No merit increases for non-union employees (projected to save $1.3 million).
  • Targeted departmental reductions not to include layoffs, service reductions or facility closures (saves $8.8 million).
  • 25 percent funding reduction for external agencies such as REDI or the convention center (saves $2 million).
  • Using debt service funds and other sources, rather than General Fund dollars, for bond repayments (saves $5.1 million).
  • Delay start of FY18 police recruit class by six months (saves $2.3 million).
  • Transferring certain costs from the General fund to other funds (saves $2.6 million).
  • Eliminating the Strategic Enforcement and Economic Development (SEED) Program (saves $500,000).
  • Take $130,000 from the Contingencies reserve, leaving a zero balance.

Black says public safety won't be compromised, noting the plan doesn't call for fire department "brownouts." However, the number of sworn police and fire personnel could dip based on retirements/attrition.

The city is projecting a $19.7 million shortfall for fiscal year 2019, and Black says that will likely increase, but right now he says the budget is structurally balanced.

State and federal funding cuts haven't been included "because they have not occurred yet so therefore we cannot include them in this budget. But we anticipate a state reduction of at least $1 million," Black says.

He adds federal cuts are expected as well but the city isn't sure how much those will be.

The mayor is expected to make adjustments and present his version of the budget by the end of the month. Public hearings are set for early June, and Council is scheduled to vote on a final budget June 21.