Cincinnati City Council approved a budget Dec. 14 that relies on parking privatization as a means to plug a $34 million budget deficit while also raising property taxes in 2014.
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,” Councilman Chris Smitherman said. “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.”
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.
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.