City Councilâ€™s Budget and Finance Committee on Tuesday unanimously stripped budget restorations that would have reinstated car allowances, paid work days and office budgets for the city governmentâ€™s top earners, including the mayor, city manager and council members.
â€śIt seems disingenuous that we would restore funding to the top earners in our city for car allowances and cost-saving days and also show, as we did last June, that we are willing to make sacrifices along with our employees,â€ť Councilman Chris Seelbach said at the committee meeting. â€śWhen we ask people not to take a raise for five years or to not take a car allowance, itâ€™s important for us to also make sacrifices.â€ť
Seelbach added that he hopes City Councilâ€™s decision will send â€śa signal to the administration that this Council is not interested in making the wealthy more wealthy or giving more executive perks to people who already make hundred-plus thousands of dollars.â€ť
The city previously eliminated some paid work days and car allowances as part of broader cuts to balance the cityâ€™s operating budget without laying off cops or firefighters.
City spokesperson Meg Olberding told CityBeat on Friday that restoring the car allowances is a matter of basic fairness and keeping both the cityâ€™s word and competitiveness. She said the car allowances are typically part of compensation packages offered in other cities that compete with Cincinnati for recruitment. The allowances, she added, were also promised to city directors as part of their pay packages when they were first hired for the job.
But some council members, particularly Seelbach, called the restorations out of touch.
â€śIâ€™m more concerned with the garbage worker whoâ€™s making barely enough to get by and would love to get a quarter-on-the-hour raise, much less a $5,000 car allowance,â€ť Seelbach told CityBeat on Friday. â€śIf someone wants to leave their position when theyâ€™re making $100,000-plus because weâ€™re not going to give them a $5,000 car allowance, Iâ€™m convinced we can find someone just as capable, if not more capable, that would be thrilled with a $100,000-plus salary with no car allowance.â€ť
The City Council motions passed on Tuesday remove the provisions for car allowances, paid work days and City Council office budgets but keep earlier proposals from council members, including restorations to human services funding and city parks.