Council approved first half of 2013 budget on Friday - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Cincinnati City Council approves 2013 budget

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Cincinnati City Council voted Friday to approve a budget for the first half of 2013.

"We took a very hard budget with a deficit and we balanced it. I mean, there were tough cuts but we were able to save some of the important services we provide," council member Chris Seelbach said Friday.

"They key message here is that we still have a fiscally unstructured balanced budget so we haven't solved anything here," argued Chris Smitherman. "We've just put Band-Aids around the edges."

Smitherman says he suggested lowering expenses by lowering headcount in upper management positions.

Council also voted to increase property taxes to generate just under $29 million for the city. That vote returned the millage rate to prior levels.

"With the [natural gas and electricity] aggregation decision we save citizens lots and lots of money and I want them to think about that when they think about the decision we made to go back to the rollback," Yvette Simpson said."We are continuing the momentum and the growth and most citizens will not be largely impacted by that."

"My position is, how can we ask taxpayers to pay more when we don't have the guts to make the cuts?" Quinlivan questioned. "The majority of the council does not want to make cuts in police and fire and without making cuts in the biggest portion of our budget that continues to grow and grow we have to come up with other solutions."

The budget saves the city's mounted police patrol and does not include any job cuts.

While city council members did not directly vote on whether to privatize city parking, one vote to restore the income tax reciprocity credit did include an understanding that $4.8 million of parking franchise revenue in 2013 would be used to offset a budget gap.

"The reason why I didn't support this budget was largely that outsourcing parking was the cornerstone of getting through this budget," P.G. Sittenfeld said. "And I see that as really halting some of the progress we're seeing."

"The budget is balanced with some assumptions on selling our parking system, it's very difficult to dress this pig up any other way," Chris Smitherman argued.

Some council members argue, however, that they still have time to come up with other ways to address budget concerns for the next fiscal year outside of the proposed privatization of parking.

"For those that don't like some of the options that are currently on the table there's ample time for them as well as the rest of us to try to find another way," Wendell Young offered.

Council members are expected to take a vote on the decision of whether to privatize parking sometime in March.

There is undeniably a chance that if we didn't do what we did today police officers and fire fighters would have lost their job," Chris Seelbach told FOX19.

According to the city's website, the six month appropriation presented by the City Manager totals $177,603,950.

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