It is over. The City of Cincinnati has a budget. Not necessarily a good budget. Not necessarily a structurally balanced budget, but a budget non the less. It was an interesting process to watch it unfold. I attended, via recorded video, all three budget hearings held to allow citizen input. Several things stand out. First off, most citizens in the City of Cincinnati could care less about the issue. Turn out at the meetings was small. If you subtracted the city workers who attended, it was very small. I think this is because there is no credibility in the process any longer. It is always the same, as if it is scripted. City Manager threatens layoff of Police and Fire. Council members individually weigh in, swearing to save jobs for police and fire. A revised budget is developed that does save police and fire jobs, and we are done until next year. . . .when it will start all over again. This is just another version of good cop/bad cop. The City Manager has no credibility, and the Council as a whole, has no credibility.
I am very sympathetic to the individuals whose jobs were threatened. The same individuals who daily face the stress of putting their lives on the line had the added stress of having their jobs on the line as well. And when your job is on the line that threatens the very fabric of ones existence. This threatens homes, children’s educations, way and standard of life. I am so very fortunate that I have never been laid off, or been threatened with a lay off. I probably only have an inkling of what they were actually going through. But I am very happen that the Police and Fire personnel were not laid off, and I am saddened that 60 others were. My heart goes out to those employees and to their families.
I did note, however, how easy it was for Council people to sit there and pontificate on the impact to the city of the various cuts would impact the City and its residents. Typically one or two lines would be stated regarding safety and the effects of layoffs. But a lot would be said about parks, or human services, or waste collection. One person, in all of this, as being particularly divorced from reality. That one person is Laure Quinlavin. She was particularly outraged that Police and Fire have accumulated a 37% pay increase since 2000. Laure needs to realize two things, and apparently she does not. First, 37%, over 13 years, represents approximately 2.85% per year. increase That does not even keep up with the cost of living. The second point, and this is where Laure lost her grip on reality, is the fact that those pay raises were negotiated. There were people on both sides of the negotiating table who agreed to the raises. And many other concessions were given, both at the table and otherwise. So the 37% does not paint the true picture.
Laure does like the parks, and flowers, and butterflies, and the arts, Pina Coladas and long walks on the beach. At that is good, because if she is counting on votes from Police, Fire, their families and friends to get re-elected, it could turn out she has lots of time to take those long walks. At least one could hope. I am so very glad Laure is blond. At least there is one thing about her that I like.
The question is, where will we be next May 1st? Will the threats of lay offs and cuts start anew, or while the Manager and Council spend the next 11 months trying to create a sustainable budget. Will they consider ways to increaser the revenue stream? Or will they just hope the voters approve outsourcing parking, hope the Casino revenues increase, hope growth continues, hope State and federal funds are increased. What a wonderful way to run a city. Too bad the term “City of Hope” is already taken.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
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