City considers trash fee to help budget woes

By Dan Wells - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati's city manager talked trash during a meeting on Thursday, because trash pick up in the city may no longer come cheap.

City officials say a garbage pickup fee is a last resort. Either city council and the mayor agree with the move, or cuts need to be made. At this point, public safety maybe the only option.

Cincinnati city manager Milton Dohoney presented his draft of the 2009 budget on Thursday. In it, a $9 million hold.

"The kind of numbers that we need to hit, we don't have that in other places other than public safety and we didn't want to cut in those areas," said Dohoney.

So to balance the budget, city officials have proposed delaying the 2009 fire and police recruit classes, closing nine of the city's 38 pools, and asking city residents to pay a garbage fee.

"I think that is an interesting concept," said council member Cecil Thomas. "Its new, it would be new for Cincinnati I would not rule it out but I also would not say, 'yes that's a great idea.'"

The trash fee could cost residents $17.30 a month for homes and $19.90 for a business.

The city manager says the fee would close the $9 million budget gap and help the city move to a cost-saving automated trash collection system.

"We have a gap we proposed a method of dealing with it," said Dohoney. "We've also proposed a direction we need to go and now we need to vet that with the council and the mayor and we'll see where we go with it "

Now, in the event council throws out the "trash-tax" idea, the city manager has a list of alternative cuts, including closing the Mount Auburn recreation center, and reducing police overtime.

"There aren't any cuts scheduled in the police department, so to even address that would be speculative," said police chief Tom Streicher, Jr. "The closest thing we have in terms of a cut if there is anything is to defer our 2009 class into 2010."

The 2009 general fund budget is about $375 million. Of that, $177 million go to police and fire.

The mayor and council still have to review the proposal.