City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. gave a presentation to City Council March 6 explaining how Cincinnati could work to reduce its structural budget deficits.
Even with the parking plan’s one-time infusion of funds, Cincinnati will need to make further changes to balance budgets in the next three years. To help tame these deficits, Dohoney says the city could reduce or eliminate lower-ranked programs in the city’s Priority-Driven Budgeting Process, reduce subsidies to health clinics that are getting more money from Obamacare, semi-automate solid waste collection or introduce new or increased fees for certain programs, among other changes.
But some council members said they were more concerned about how the city will manage once it loses the parking plan’s one-time injection of funding after the 2016 fiscal year.
“I think this is a bit muddled,” said Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan.
Quinlivan, who has argued for “rightsizing” police and fire departments, says the city should draw down its public safety spending to “sustainable” levels, but she says she would prefer attritioning public safety forces over abrupt, short-term cuts. “If we’re going to make adjustments, I need clear policy direction, and I do not feel that I have it,” Dohoney says. “Give me a clear direction on where you want the police department to be, and I can get it there.”
The city manager says the city will have to approve a tax hike or cuts to government spending, which poses the possibility of layoffs, if it’s serious about eliminating structural deficit problems.