Council eyes potential cuts to police, school nurses

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The City of Cincinnati is facing some tough budget decisions, involving the potential layoffs of 44 police officers.

Several City Council members say now is not the time to cut officers, following recent violence.

Wednesday night, the Budget and Finance Committee heard from the public about how to balance the budget while keeping the city safe.

The City has a $33 million dollar deficit. City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr., had hoped to get a head start on chipping-away at that, proposing laying-off 44 police officers and making cuts before 2012 budget talks begin in November.

Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan said now is the time to make the cut.

"Because you're always going to have shootings now and then and really what makes the difference in our safety, is smarter policing," she said.

Dohoney had proposed laying-off 44 police officers, which would have been a temporary move, to save their full salaries for the entire following year.

"It's not more bodies, it's not more spending, it's using the latest technology and really targeting the bad guys and any law enforcement official will tell you that," said Quinlivan.

But right now, at least five Council members said earlier this week that that they would not support any package which includes police layoffs.

"No motion will come to the Finance Committee calendar that does not have five signatures on it," stated Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls.

Fifty-two neighborhood Community Action Councils got together and told Council about cuts they're willing to take.

"Well, basically, everybody wants to have a little bit of skin in the game," said Mike Wagner who was there representing the Cincinnati Neighborhood Business Districts.

"I think there is a willingness and I think that is a serious look at the empirical value of what we have as far as police and fire is concerned," said Wagner. "As a group, they agree it would be necessary to look at that because it's one of the largest parts of the budget," he said.

But it was the school nurses, who got the most shout-outs at the public hearing.

"Thanks to our nurse Cathy, thank you," said one young woman.

"I don't think you should take nurse Cathy away from our school," said another student earnestly.

Students, parents, and health care workers all were pleading with Council, to keep funding in-place for school nurses.

Over and over, students lauded nurse Cathy Frank, who is keeping kids healthy at the Oyler School in Price Hill.

"Without good health, kids of our community wouldn't be able to learn," a young lady told Council.

"I realize that you have many budget concerns," said another woman who approached Council. "But there's a reason that 69-percent of the budget goes to police and fire, it's because they save lives, and nurses do too."

The City will also be able to save some money next year by leaving positions vacant.

As for the nurses, CPS has committed funding through the entire school year, but Council's money runs out December 31, unless it gets re-instated in the new budget.

Copyright 2011 FOX19. All Rights Reserved.