Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Council weighs wish list for city


Budget guide gives neighborhoods $76M

By Gregory Korte, gkorte@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        If Cincinnati City Council were to pass a 2003-2004 budget today, it would likely contain funding for 45 new police officers, $76 million for neighborhoods and a doubling of capital arts funding.

        And it would do all that while getting a $27 million budget deficit under con- trol.

        City Council can perform that budget magic because the “policy budget,” passed Monday by the Finance Committee, is unencumbered with any real numbers.

        Instead, the policy budget only gives general guidance to City Manager Valerie Lemmie, who will present the actual budget to May- or Charlie Luken in November.

        Finance Committee chairman John Cranley called the current resolution, to be voted on Wednesday by the full council, a “back-to-basics neighborhood budget.”

        It includes the following priorities, with each supported by at least five council members:

        • Include the costs of complying with the collaborative agreement on police-community relations, capped at $1 million a year.

        • Continue the plan to hire 75 new police officers by adding the remaining 45 officers not accounted for in the 2002 budget.

        • Transfer $22 million from the general fund to the capital fund for neighborhood projects.

        • Earmark $54 million from the city's sale of Anthem Inc. stock for neighborhood development.

        • Spend $2 million a year for capital arts projects.

        • Set aside $7 million for low-interest loans and grants for new market-rate housing.

        • Focus on quality-of-life issues such as code enforcement, litter control and enforcement of the noise ordinance.

        • Create a small-business division in the Department of Community Development.

        • Re-evaluate city subsidies and tax abatements to businesses, especially downtown.

        • Eliminate 60 vacant positions at City Hall.

        • Bill insurance companies when the Fire Department responds to a motor vehicle accident.

        • Examine the possible sale of the Blue Ash Airport and city-owned golf courses outside city limits.

        • Proceed with “managed competition” of city services, which could lead to some services being contracted out to companies.

        • Keep the property tax rate at 5.4 mills, which will allow tax revenues to grow by $3 million through increased property values.

       



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