Economic Fallout From Coronavirus Could Cause a $60 Million to $80 million Budget Deficit for City of Cincinnati

That deficit, perhaps the largest in memory, could require some non-essential city personnel to take temporary unpaid leave.

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click to enlarge Cincinnati City Hall - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati City Hall

The City of Cincinnati could feel some big financial impacts from the pandemic coronavirus, City Manager Patrick Duhaney wrote today in a memo to Mayor John Cranley and City Council.

The economic fallout from COVID-19 could mean a budget deficit this year and next year of between $60 million and $80 million — a gap much larger than any in recent memory.

In his memo, Duhaney cited an "unprecedented rise in unemployment and the closure of many businesses and services." 

"Understand that Police, Fire (the Emergency Communications Center), Health and Public Services functions are vital to the safety and well-being of our city during this crisis and have to prioritized short term," Duhaney wrote. "We need to act now to identify other reductions while we progress through this crisis." 

Cranley today said that those reductions could include asking some nonessential city workers to take temporary unpaid leave until the crisis passes. Dayton and Akron have taken similar measures to address budget issues related to COVID-19.

He also said he does not want the city to tap into the $150 million Cincinnati City Council authorized it to borrow last week, saying he hopes most or all of that money won't need to be spent.

"All of this is sad and tragic," he said. "We're moving quickly to ensure that we will be able throughout this crisis to provide police, fire, public health and sanitation as well as clean water and sewer services...we also realize that unlike Washington, DC, we cannot print money."

The mayor said today that he expects the city to release more detailed plans Monday about addressing the budget issues.

"Whatever cuts and layoffs we have to announce on Monday, we intend for those to be temporary," he said.

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