Tuesday, April 03, 2001

Cleveland shutdown averted; budget passes

By Amy Beth Graves
The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — A budget stalemate that threatened a shutdown of many city services ended Monday night when the City Council approved a spending plan acceptable to the mayor.

        The council voted 21-0 to approve the budget, which was promptly signed by Mayor Michael White.

        The mayor warned, however, that the issue might be revisited by June because a slowing economy has hurt the city's top revenue source, its municipal income tax.

        Mayors across Ohio and Gov. Bob Taft have issued similar warnings, Mr. White noted. “They're all saying the same thing: cut, cut, cut,” Mr. White said.

        The stalemate smacked of political brinksmanship to some.

        “It's all politics,” said cab driv er Rick Robinson, 42. “The council and mayor — it's an election year for them.”

        State law required the city to have a balanced budget by midnight Monday.

        Mr. White had said that if the city of nearly half a million people lacked a balanced budget by the deadline, he would shut down nonessential city services such as burials. The mayor's office offered few specifics of what services might be interrupted but said police, fire and ambulance services as well as Cleveland Hopkins International Airport would not be affected.

        The threat of a partial shutdown eased Monday afternoon when Mr. White received a new budget proposal from the council.

        Mr. White said the $493.7 million spending plan appeared to be balanced and canceled plans to shut down city services today.


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