Cincinnati City Council members focused a lot of attention on a contentious plan to lease city parking assets during a Dec. 3 committee presentation on the 2013 budget. It was the first opportunity council members had to publicly question the budget’s architects. The proposed budget would cover the first half of 2013 until a switchover to a fiscal year starting in July.
Many council members expressed concern over the plan to use $21 million from a proposed 30-year lease of the city’s parking facilities to help close a $34 million budget deficit.
City Manager Milton Dohoney said those facilities net Cincinnati about $7 million a year — about $210 million over 30 years.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld called into question the wisdom of leasing the facilities for an estimated $50 million and taking half of the profit for about $155 million over the lease.
Dohoney said a combination of cuts, savings, revenue, projected growth and one-time funding sources would help eliminate the deficit but that a budget containing only cuts would result in the layoff of 344 city workers.
The cuts proposed include eliminating support for Media Bridges, the Downtown and Neighborhood Gateways Program, Juvenile Firesetter Program and Arts Grants.
It would also eliminate the Cincinnati Police Department’s Mounted Patrol. Dohoney said this would allow Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig to redeploy those nine officers elsewhere. Craig had asked for a new recruit class of 50, but Dohoney allowed 30. He said the additional nine from the horse patrol would bring that closer to 40.
The proposed budget also includes investments in groups that promote economic development, like the Port Authority, Greater Cincinnati Partnership, Film Commission and African American Chamber of Commerce.