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First Look At How Cincinnati Could Spend $290 Million In Stimulus

Mayor John Cranley (left) and City Manger Paula Boggs Muething announced recommendations for spending the stimulus money on March 24.
Becca Costello
Mayor John Cranley (left) and City Manger Paula Boggs Muething announced recommendations for spending the stimulus money on March 24.

The Cincinnati city manager's recommendations for spending $290 million in federal stimulus includes balancing this year's budget and planning ahead for future deficits. Paula Boggs Muething sent her spending plan to council members Wednesday.

"The administration undertook some internal discussions in order to come up with our funding priorities — things that we believe that we have heard from the public," Boggs Muething said.

Her recommendations allocate $18.7 million to balance the fiscal year 2021 budget; $31 million for a projected deficit in FY 2022, which begins July 1; and $35 million for a projected deficit in FY 2023. About $22 million would be used to replace lost revenue from sources such as parking meters, conventions, and hotel stays.

The plan also calls for the creation of an $18.5 million contingency fund in case the city is no longer able to collect income tax from remote workers living outside the city. That change could come through state lawmakers or ongoing lawsuits.

Interim Council Member Steve Goodin says the city is too reliant on the earnings tax, which makes up more than 70% of city income.

"Regardless of what the legislature does, or any of the litigation does, to our earnings tax, I think we have a long-term systemic problem that we have to think about," Goodin said.

Council Member Chris Seelbach criticized the lack of input from council and the public.

"I'm not aware of a time – I've been through a lot of city managers – that on one of these monumental recommendations that council members weren't at least asked for a meeting to give our ideas," Seelbach said. "There's ten people that kind of oversee the city manager and it doesn't feel like nine of them, at least that I know of, were involved in these recommendations."

Boggs Muething says council can hold public hearings and make changes to the plan before giving it final approval.

Several members have filed motions asking for funding for certain projects, like affordable housing and police and fire recruiting, that are not included in the recommendations.

See the complete list of recommendations at the bottom of this post.

Recommended for Support Programs: $62.4 million

  • $5 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
  • $500,000 for the HARBOR Program
  • $5 million for Port Authority affordable housing projects
  • $2 million for Build Cincinnati Development Fund
  • $11 million for arts, including $1 million for Blink 2022
  • $3.1 million for social services operation grants
  • $4 million for restaurant grant phase 2
  • $3 million for Neighborhood Activation Fund
  • $4 million for neighborhood business districts support grants
  • $3 million for minority business partnerships
  • $5 million for minority business accelerator-ascend
  • $3 million for women business program
  • $2 million for outdoor dining grant program

Recommended for Capital Projects: $93.9 million

  • $3 million for Mercy West Hospital Boudinot Site Improvements
  • $4.2 million for Winton Hills Pool
  • $6.1 million for Cincinnati Recreation Commission outdoor facility renovations (41 locations)
  • $2 million for King Records Building Improvements
  • $4.25 million for police and fire fleet equipment purchases
  • $1.5 million for network upgrades
  • $1.5 million for phone system upgrade
  • $3.5 million for fire training center tower
  • $2 million for firehouse improvements
  • $2.73 million for Parks trail expansion projects
  • $3 million for Freedom Center Park
  • $1.5 million for Smale Riverfront Park
  • $5.1 million for Mt. Airy trails expansion
  • $6.59 million for lighting improvements

City Manager Priorities for American Rescue Plan by WVXU News on Scribd

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Becca Costello