Sunday, April 01, 2001

No plans for police layoffs, Hamilton officials say

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — City officials say published reports that police officers will be laid off because of anticipated budget shortfalls are premature and inaccurate.

        Vice Mayor Tom Nye said the city is looking to reduce costs as it plans for the 2002 budget. But he said there are no plans right now for lay offs. He said the 2001 budget is already balanced.

        “We are gathering data right now so we don't wake up on Jan. 1, 2002, and find ourselves with our pants down and not enough money to pay for everything we had planned,” said Mr. Nye, a former mayor of Hamilton.

        The city is expecting to collect less in payroll taxes after hundreds of jobs have been lost at several major employers, including Ohio Casualty Group, International Paper and Mercy Hospital.

        The city's total budget for this calendar year is $220 million. Mr. Nye said it's too early to tell how much the job losses will reduce the amount of payroll taxes collected. The payroll tax is set at 2 percent, and helps pay for the city's 750 employees.

        On Wednesday, city police gave council members a report about what would happen should the police force be reduced. The chief said the force, with 120 sworn officers, couldn't operate effectively with fewer than 112 officers.

        Mr. Nye said each city office, from the parks to health departments, have been asked to explain how job cuts would affect them. The health and fire departments have already given their reports. The law and parks departments are to follow.

        “We are planning ahead, making prudent decisions,” Mr. Nye said. “We are not shuffling the cards and waiting to after the election.”

        The elections are in November and the city doesn't have to approve its 2002 budget until the end of the year.


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