Cincinnati mayor pushes budget through to council, with lay-offs

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19)  - On Tuesday, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory sent the City Manager's proposed cuts on to City Council. Right now, that budget includes laying off 315 city workers, including 112 police positions and 46 firefighters plus cuts across the board.

Mayor Mallory said this is the most difficult situation the city has faced in three decades.  He added the only way he knows to cut $51.5 million is with those lay-offs. But again, some council members said that's not the way to go; setting up round two of this year's budget battle.

"So as we take in less money we have less to pay for the services that we need and the services that people like," Mayor Mallory said on Tuesday. "We have less money to pay for fire services, police services, less money to operate our pools, recreation centers, to pay for recycling. That is the reality of where we are."

By law, the Mayor has 15 days to make changes to the budget, before he passes it on to City Council. But Tuesday, one day after the City Manager presented his budget, Mallory said there's no time to waste and he's transmitting the budget with no changes.

Council member Jeff Berding disagrees with the Mayor's move.

"I think it's better to have extra time," Berding said. "But I think the mayor needs to show leadership and tell us what are the answers. I think it's critical that he weigh in because in the past the way that this always works is that the finance chair and the mayor sort of lead the way."

Mayor Mallory said the problem stems from a dramatic drop in earnings tax. As more residents are laid off the city takes in less money to fund jobs; programs. Berding added if jobs are an issue, forcing middle class families to pay more for less is not the answer.

Councilman Chris Monzel said he also doesn't know how City Council is going to do it, but laying-off members of the police and fire departments is not an option.

"I definitely will not vote to lay off any police or firefighters," Monzel said. "I made that commitment I will stick with that commitment. But I think for other jobs we might have to do some restructuring. Possibly leveraging with the county in order to come up with some savings which is doable."

The Mayor also announced plans to chair what he's calling a "Committee of the Whole" next week. The Mayor said that's when he wants the public to weigh in on the proposal. No word yet on a date for that meeting.

Mayor mallory said he does have a list of items he'd like to change, but he's not saying what they are until after his public meeting next week.

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