Cincinnati budget passes; many say work just beginning

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19)  - Cincinnati City Council passed the 2010 budget Monday night with one vote. Members delayed payments and slashed spending, but many tell us they wonder if this plan is just delaying a disaster.

Council members avoided lay-offs and did not choose to implement a trash fee.

Nevertheless, one union representative says it's still going to cost taxpayers. If not money, possibly their sanity. The city union CODE must demote 14 workers.

"The impact of the demotions and bumps that you're going to see," asked CODE President Diana Frey. "I can line up 10 people in front of the salt dome, if you want to go down there right now, that will directly affect the winter operations and immediate service delivery to the public."

Council's current plan includes cutting $23 million. The money comes from slashing overtime for police officers, unpaid days off for council and the mayor and $400,000 in office supplies. Council also borrowed $8.2 million dollars from the Capital Reserve Fund.

Council member Charlie Winburn said it's not ideal, but it's better than the alternative.

"First of all, we had to save police, fire and CODE and sanitation workers, which are priorities of the city," said Winburn. "We have to keep our cities safe so I'm very pleased with that."

Most of the cuts are a one time deal which means it won't help the city past next year. That's a major concern for the Fraternal Order of Police Union President Kathy Harrell. The approved budget includes 10 unpaid days for police personnel.

"That's something I'll be reminding my members of all throughout 2010," Harrell said. "That when this budget process starts again, we're probably going to be discussing it again. It's not something that's going to go away."

As for the 2011 budget, Winburn said he's hoping to avoid lay-offs then, too. He said he plans to start proposing cuts for that budget as early as January.

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