Small crowd for first hearing on Cincinnati budget

May 21, 2014

Cincinnati budget hearing Wednesday evening in Bond Hill.
Credit Jay Hanselman

A small number of people showed up Wednesday night to speak about the proposed Cincinnati budget for the next fiscal year.  There were lots of empty chairs in the auditorium and only eight people offered testimony.

Some of them want continued funding for on road bicycle lanes.  The proposed budget could cut money for bike lane maintenance and eliminate dollars to build new ones.

“There’s a new definition of the bike program,” said Nern Ostendorf with Queen City Bike.  “It will divert all of the money from the on road projects, which I believe would have serious consequences for your ability to serve the people who bike and the people who wish to bike in Cincinnati.”

Another person testified on road bike lanes make things safer for pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists.  

Several speakers also asked the city to fund Cincinnati Works.  The program offers jobs skills training and assistance finding employment.

“We want to urge you to work collectively to find funding solutions that can help reduce poverty in our communities,” said Peggy Zink, who is the president of Cincinnati Works.  “Additional funding for us would allow us to expand our services to work with more individuals looking to end the cycle of poverty.”

At least one council member indicated support to provide city funds for Cincinnati Works.  

Some council members are working on plans to provide $6 million of funding for the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority.  Those dollars are not currently included in the proposed city budget.  If council includes money for the Port, it would have to make cuts elsewhere to balance the budget.  

Budget and Finance Committee chairman Charlie Winburn still wants the full Council to adopt a budget on June 4th.  He is asking members to submit their budget motions to him by Tuesday.  Winburn said he will only consider those with five or more signatures.  

Council Member Kevin Flynn said he is concerned by that process and the lack of debate.

“I hope that we’ll be having a full discussion of the budget, where we can hopefully come to a consensus in public not behind closed doors,” Flynn said.

There will be another public hearing on the budget next Wednesday evening at the Oakley Recreation Center.

Mayor John Cranley released his spending proposal last week, which largely endorsed a structurally balanced budget proposal from interim city manager Scott 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.  

Cranley said the budget focuses on basics like police, fire and public services.  He also said the plan was put together without threats of massive layoffs or closing city swimming pools.