by Andy Brownfield
Council also approves 2014 property tax increase
Cincinnati City Council on Friday approved a budget that
relies on parking privatization as a means to plug a $34 million budget
deficit while also raising property taxes in 2014.
Mayor Mark Mallory opened up the council meeting with a
moment of silent prayer for the 27 students and adults killed at an
elementary school in Connecticut.
“I want us all to take a moment and put into perspective what we’re doing today,” he said.
Council voted to increase the property tax by about 24
percent, from 4.6 mills (a mill is equal to one-tenth of a cent) to 5.71
mills. That means Cincinnatians would pay an additional $34 for every
$100,000 of their home’s value.
The vote reverses a move made last year by conservatives on council, who reduced property taxes.
Council also passed a budget that relies on $21 million
from a proposed lease of the city’s parking facilities — a deal that is
expected to be voted on in March. Of the proposals submitted to the city
so far, Cincinnati stands to gain $100 million to $150 million in an
upfront payment and a share of the profits over the 30-year lease.
“My concern about balancing this budget with a onetime
revenue source by selling our parking system seems to be ill advised,”
said Independent Councilman Chris Smitherman. “We don’t know how council
will vote in March … but we have tied not only the budget to this one
time revenue source, but we have also tied reciprocity.”
Council nixed a plan to eliminate tax reciprocity for
people who lived in Cincinnati but worked elsewhere and paid income tax
in both cities.
Though the budget doesn’t mention parking privatization, council hasn’t mentioned other options to close the budget deficit.
If opponents of parking privatization want to keep
facilities under city control, they would have to come up with $21
million in revenue elsewhere or make $21 million in cuts.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld suggested using casino revenue,
cutting travel expenses, downsizing the ratio of managers to workers,
sharing services with nearby jurisdictions and downsizing the city’s
fleet as ways to cut down the budget.
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan, long an advocate of
downsizing the police and fire departments, voted against the property tax increase
in protest of what she said was bloated spending on departments that
were outpacing population growth.
The budget also requires Cincinnati to accept police and
fire recruit classes in 2014, regardless of whether the city gets a
federal grant to fund the classes.
The budget also restores the Cincinnati Police
Department’s mounted patrol, which patrols downtown on horseback. The
city will use $105,000 from off-duty detail fees from businesses that
hire off-duty officers. Council also voted to start charging those
businesses an extra $1.64 on top of the off-duty pay.
Council also voted to shift $50,000 for repairs and
upgrades to the Contemporary Arts Center to pay for maintenance and
beautification at Washington Park, which is operated by 3CDC.
by Andy Brownfield
Measures front Duke $15 million, add utility responsibility to move lines to city code
Cincinnati City Council on Wednesday approved a set of
measures to alter funding of the $110 million streetcar project in order
avoid further delaying its 2015 opening.
The three measures set up $15 million to front to Duke
Energy to move utility lines out of the proposed path; changes the
source of funding to repay some $25 million in bonds used to pay for the
streetcar; sells $14 million in bonds for streetcar improvements; and
changes the municipal code to clarify that it is the responsibility of a
utility to relocate its structures.
The $15 million comes from the $37 million sale of city-owned land near the former Blue Ash Airport.
Council voted 6-3 to approve the front money, improvement
bonds and bond repayment, a vote that largely mirrored a Monday Budget
and Finance Committee vote. Councilman Chris Smitherman was the sole
“no” vote on the ordinance to change the municipal code.
Councilmembers Cecil Thomas, Wendell Young, Roxanne
Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson voted to pass
funding, while Councilmembers Smitherman, P.G. Sittenfeld and Charles
Winburn voted against.
“My concern with all of these votes … in particular the
Blue Ash Airport dollars, these were promises that you made to the
neighborhoods and I don’t have the confidence that the legal battle
against Duke Energy is going to yield a 100 percent win for the city of
Cincinnati, so there’s no assurance that these dollars are going to come
back,” said Councilman Chris Smitherman, one of the most vocal
opponents of the streetcar.
“I want to be clear that it’s something that I don’t support.”
The $15 million would be fronted to Duke to move its lines
while the city and utility work out who is responsible for funding the
Duke estimates the full cost at $18 million and argues
that the lines would not have to be moved if the streetcar wasn’t being
built. The city maintains that it has always been the responsibility of
utilities to move or upgrade their structures — which the third measure
clarified in the municipal code. If the city loses a legal battle against Duke, it will not
recoup the $15 million.
The second proposal switches the source of funding for
streetcar bonds from money coming into city coffers from southern
downtown and the riverfront area to a 1995 fund set up to collect
service payments from the Westin/Star, Hyatt and Saks. The measure wouldn't use any additional new money for the streetcar.
That downtown area wasn’t bringing in as much cash as
expected but the city hopes to repay the other fund once the downtown
district — which includes the Banks and the casino — rebounds.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 25, 2012
The Enquirer’s Cliff Radel
informed readers today that not all of the historical lore out there
about the devastating Ohio River flood of 1937 is true. Apparently, it’s
not really true that houses floated down the river and came to rest
elsewhere completely intact, despite many tales told by locals over the
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 16, 2009
JEAN SCHMIDT: Poor Jean, she just can’t seem to keep herself off our list. Just a week after her embarrassing testimony in an Ohio Elections Commission complaint she filed against an opponent, the sour-looking congresswoman drew nationwide scorn for an incident caught on video by Think Progress.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 27, 2009
It’s certainly true that good people can come to different conclusions and disagree on an issue. Sometimes, however, good people are led astray by those with ulterior motives. For more than a year, an unusual coalition of arch-conservatives, civil rights groups, Libertarians, Green Party members and others have joined together to mount several petition drives that have made the ballot and let voters decide on issues that otherwise would have been made by elected officials.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 15, 2009
If its true that misery loves company, then you might think two groups of people used to being prejudged and scorned just for who they are might be more sympathetic to each other. Thats not the case for Cincinnatis black and gay communities, at least if you listen to Christopher Smitherman, president of the local NAACP chapter.