by German Lopez
Final plan makes cuts elsewhere, raise taxes and fees
City Council approved a budget motion today that will avert all public safety layoffs in the fiscal year 2014 budget. But if the overall operating budget plan is approved by a majority of council tomorrow, many city services will be cut and property taxes and numerous fees will go up.The operating budget plan, which passed with an 8-1 vote, comes after months of city officials threatening to lay off cops and firefighters if the city did not approve a plan to lease Cincinnati's parking assets to the Port Authority, which city officials previously claimed was necessary to raise funds that would help balance the operating budget for two years and fund economic development projects. But the parking plan is currently being held up in court, and the public safety layoffs are being avoided anyway.Last week, council members Roxanne Qualls and Chris Seelbach announced a budget motion that would avoid all fire layoffs and all but 25 police layoffs. The remaining 25 police layoffs are being undone through the budget motion approved today, which increases estimates for incoming revenues with $1 million that is supposed to be paid back to the city's tax increment financing fund.Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan did not sign onto the plan, articulating concerns that the budget maneuver will make the deficit worse in 2015 and fail to structurally balance the budget.Even with the motion, the overall operating budget plan would make cuts elsewhere and raise fees and property taxes. If the plan is approved, about 60 city employees are expected to lose their jobs in the next couple weeks.The cuts swept through most of the city government, hitting parks, the arts, human services, parades, administrative budgets and outside agencies, among many other areas.The operating budget portion of the property tax will also climb from 5.7 mills in 2014 to 6.1 mills in 2015, which comes out to an extra $34 for every $100,000 in property value. The latest property tax increase comes after City Council approved a hike in 2013, pushing the property tax from 4.6 mills in 2013 to 5.7 mills in 2014.The plan would also raise fees for several city services, including fire plan reviews and admission into the Krohn Conservatory.Multiple council members claimed the austerity was necessary because of the state government, which has cut local government funding by about 50 percent during Gov. John Kasich's time in office ("Enemy of the State," issue of March 20).Still, Lea Eriksen, the city's budget director, previously pointed out Cincinnati has not passed a structurally balanced budget since 2001.City Council will vote on the overall budget plan May 30. Council members Qualls, Seelbach, Pam Thomas, Wendell Young and Yvette Simpson are expected to vote in favor of the plan, giving it enough votes to pass City Council.
by German Lopez
Friends, family of victims call for more safety rules
On New Year’s Day, a fire broke out in a residential home
near the University of Cincinnati that led to the deaths of UC students Chad
Kohls and Ellen Garner, and their friends and family say the deaths could have been prevented by a better fire ordinance code. Now, Councilwoman
Laure Quinlivan is heeding their call.
Speaking in front of the Livable Communities Committee
today, friends and family of Kohls and Garner asked City Council to pass changes to the fire ordinance, including more required fire exits, annual inspections, a mandatory fire drill at the beginning of each school semester and the removal of all exceptions in the code. They’re also asking the new ordinance be named in honor of Kohls and Garner.
Quinlivan says her office will work with the city administration to find possible changes that would help avert fire deaths, including a measure that
would prevent air conditioning units from being placed on windows that
are supposed to act as exits.
Quinlivan is also encouraging UC to restart a certified
list of preferred rental locations around campus, which would only include housing
properties that pass fire safety inspections.
“I am touched that those close to Ellen and Chad contacted
me, so that we can work with our city administration to prevent similar
tragedies in the future,” Quinlivan said in a statement.Two weeks ago, City Council unanimously approved an
ordinance that requires all rental properties be equipped with
photoelectric smoke detectors that are better at detecting slow,
smoldering fires, which have been linked to more fatalities than the
flaming, fast-moving fires picked up by the more traditional ionization
smoke detectors, according to the vice mayor’s office. CityBeat covered that legislation here.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 25, 2012
More than a decade after Cincinnati voters
decided they wanted to change the way the city’s Police Department
operates, they’re finally seeing real, significant results.
0 Comments · Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I don’t know a person who wasn’t affected by the windstorms that swept through here Sept. 14. If it was n’t tree branches littered all the yard or a tree lying in a road you normally take, you encountered a grocery store nearby without power, a gas tank on empty and not a station open any where.