Council majority proposes priorities for restoring budget cuts

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A majority of City Council members are supporting a proposal to restore funding for human services agencies, parks and other city services based on higher than anticipated revenues to the city in May and June.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and Council members Wendell Young, Pam Thomas, Yvette Simpson, Chris Seelbach and Laure Quinlivan outlined their proposal to restore just under $4 million in funding at a press conference on Tuesday.

The city took in approximately $10 million more than projected for the 2013 budget year, making the budget restorations possible.

"Our plan prioritizes support for people, jobs and neighborhoods," Qualls said. "These funds are critical for agencies that help the homeless and our most vulnerable residents, the parks that are so beloved by Cincinnatians, and services that support our neighborhoods."

The motion restores funding for:

  • Human services, including the Center for Closing the Health Gap;
  • Job development, including the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber Minority Business Accelerator and the African American Chamber of Commerce;
  • Health programs, including programs dealing with junked vehicles, rodent control, litter/weed response, insect control, containment of disease outbreaks, infant mortality, health clinics, and school based health centers;
  • Parks;
  • Public Services greenspace and right of way maintenance;
  • An attorney dedicated to enforcement of the city's chronic nuisance law;
  • Funding for community councils and neighborhood business districts;
  • Fountain Square maintenance;
  • Urban agriculture and the Office of Environmental Quality's energy management program.

Council adopted a budget for Fiscal Year 2014 in May; the budget prevented public safety layoffs but included cuts to many outside agencies and city departments in order to fill a $35 million budget deficit.

Qualls emphasized that the restorations are made possible by the higher than anticipated revenue for May and June. Council was required to pass the Fiscal Year 2014 budget by the end of May, before the carryover balance amount was known.

The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition released a statement after the announcement.

"As citizens of Cincinnati we must note that this restoration is occurring because citizens, faith groups, civic groups and the like called for it. We must let council members who vote for this restoration know they are doing the right thing and that their work on this is valuable. We must continue to press for an eventual full restoration of human services to 1.5% of the general fund."

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