$91M deficit in Cincinnati’s 2021 budget due to coronavirus

Cincinnati City Hall (FOX19 NOW/Robert Guaderrama)
Cincinnati City Hall (FOX19 NOW/Robert Guaderrama)
Published: Apr. 30, 2020 at 11:32 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 30, 2020 at 11:33 AM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The city of Cincinnati has a projected $91.4 million deficit in its 2021 budget due to impacts from the coronavirus pandemic, and more cuts are coming, city officials say.

Cincinnati also has another, albeit smaller, deficit of $15 million in the current 2020 budget.

Like other cities across the state, Cincinnati is grappling with major and sudden losses of income tax revenue as a result of an economic shutdown to try to stop the virus from spreading.

Ohio’s stay-at-home order has been in effect since last month. Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration shut down schools and many businesses. Large gatherings of 10 or more people remain prohibited as well.

DeWine announced earlier this week some businesses will begin to reopen starting Friday, but the order against large gatherings will remain intact.

Now, Cincinnati leaders must find ways to make cuts while continuing to try to provide as many services as possible during this unprecedented time.

It’s not clear yet how the city will make up for the deficits, but more cuts are definitely coming, it’s just finalized yet exactly where, said Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman.

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Earlier this month, City Manager Patrick Duhaney recommended city council members cut human service agencies by 25%.

Councilman Chris Seelbach proposed the city to ask FC Cincinnati to voluntarily return $4.6 million out of more than $30 million the city has agreed to give for infrastructure for the team’s new stadium under construction in the West End.

That measure fell flat for lack of support during council’s budget and finance committee meeting Wednesday.

City administrators told council Wednesday they remain hopeful Cincinnati will receive federal money in an upcoming stimulus.

Recent federal aid that provided trillions in stimulus to the U.S. economy left out cities like Cincinnati.

Mayor John Cranley has said the city’s police and fire departments could face cuts if the city does not receive assistance soon from the federal government.

He has been advocating for Congress to include local governments in another federal stimulus bill.

Meanwhile, violent crime is shooting up in Cincinnati as coronavirus prevents its police force from deploying all of its crime fighting tactics.

There are rumors of layoffs, particularly for the police department, but Smitherman said Thursday those are just rumors for now.

He said city administrators are putting a plan together that does not have layoffs at this point - but they can’t commit to anything until they see if the city receives federal money.

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