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Cranley presents budget to Cincinnati City Council

CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- No tax increase,  no layoffs, and the first structurally balanced budget since 2001. 

Those are among the highlights of the fiscal 2015 budget presented Tuesday by Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley.  The mayor released his outline surrounded by police officers, fire fighters, and supportive City Council members at District One police headquarters.  The location was no coincidence.  Cranley campaigned for Mayor promising to refocus city attention on basic services.

"A lot of it has to do with choices," the Mayor said.  "And my choices are to put police, fire, and a structurally balanced budget ahead of other priorities."
A structurally balanced budget means the city is not transferring nor borrowing one-time funding sources to keep spending and revenues in balance.   For example,  Cranley said the city borrowed $27 million from the Workers' Compensation fund in order to balance the budget in 2011.  Cranley said having a structurally balanced budget should help the city's credit rating in the future.  The credit rating determines how much it costs the city to borrow money, and that rating was downgraded recently.  

However, Cranley said one of the credit rating agencies, Standard & Poor, "changed our outlook from negative to stable," and that could lead to higher credit ratings if the plan for a structurally balanced budget and pension plan funding reforms are implemented.
The $358 million general fund budget includes 20 police officers hired from other departments, a recruit class of 60 officers, a fire recruit class funded by federal dollars, and more road paving and pothole repairs.  There are also some new or increased fees for such things as false alarm runs and building permits.
City Council has final say on the budget, and could make changes.  There will be three public hearings.   Council has to pass the budget by July 1, which is the start of Fiscal 2015.

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