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City of Cincinnati budget plan passes

CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- More police, more firefighters and no rate increase for water; at least not now.
Those are among the highlights of the 2015 budget passed Wednesday by Cincinnati City Council members.  Budget committee chair Charlie Winburn thanked his panel for a 6-3 vote in favor of the 2015 budget.  It adds police officers, firefighters and street repairs, among other things.
There wasn't too much controversy on the 357 million dollar general fund spending plan.  Except for an item which is less than one percent of the total 350,000 dollars that The Enquirer says would go to a little-known group to tear down Integrity Hall.  Integrity Hall is an empty Bond Hill banquet facility owned by the politically connected Steve Reece.  That passed, but not without a fight.

"We're giving them $350,000 of taxpayer money and it seems very scary to me," said Cincinnati City Council member, Chris Seelbach.

Besides the budget for things like police and fire there's a separate fund for something right inside your house, water.  Water Works asked for a seven and a half percent rate hike.  There was also a proposed four percent compromise.  But there will be no water increases in the ordinance.

Cincinnati Vice Mayor, David Mann, said, "Well I think that's a bad decision. I hope a majority of council upon reflection will at least support a small increase."

Mann says the smaller increase is needed to protect the bond rating of the water system.  While the committee voted against any rate hike,  the issue will be reconsidered next week so there is a chance the four percent increase will go through.  That lower increase would cost the average in-city water user less than a dollar a month.

The 2015 budget is up for a vote in June 2014 instead of December because Cincinnati is now on a fiscal year which starts July first,

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