Councilmembers discuss budget, furloughs

By Dan Wells - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A city councilman says his colleagues should publicly announce what their budget priorities really are.

Councilman Jeff Berding is holding a press conference on Thursday to discuss the city's budget, and figure out what's next.

On Tuesday night, a third union, AFSCME, which represents 2,300 city workers, said "no way" to furloughs. These unions join the police and fire unions in rejecting the proposal. But if city workers don't take these unpaid days off, there could be more service reductions and layoffs.

"It's crazy because its too much money for people. For people that make under
$50 thousand, 10 furlough days is four percent of what they make and that is a lot of money," said city employee Richard Reif.

Reif says rumors of what's next are swirling.

"They are going to have layoffs anyway," said Reif. "(City Manager Milton) Dohoney has said he can't promises no layoffs, even if we take the furlough days, so we're not interested in taking the furlough days."

That means the city still does not have a balanced 2009 budget.

"I met with the city manager today," said Berding. "I've talked with the mayor and at the August meeting council meeting, we will consider another package of cuts."

And to be clear about what cuts each councilmember supports, Berding has an idea.

"We're going to get together at noon (Thursday) on the steps of city hall and people will have the opportunity to declare their priorities as it relates to the budget," said Berding.

The opinions have varied.

"I don't want to see any layoffs but certainly if you layoff police and fire, that waves the white flag of surrender and I won't vote to do that," said Berding.

"We're asking this very powerful union to make some modest concessions and, so far, they're behaving like spoiled brats," said councilman Greg Harris.

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