Reality check? Projected deficits leave little incentive for support programs

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Cincinnati receives more federal stimulus than initially expected, but estimated budget deficits have also increased. The Budget and Finance Committee gave initial approval to spend more than $ 100 million in a controversial meeting on Monday.

The city expects a total of about $ 311 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) over the next two years. That’s almost $ 20 million more than originally planned and includes two new restricted allocations:

  • $ 9,923,076 for affordable housing
  • $ 9,975,375 for health

The first installment of around $ 165 million is scheduled for May 11. The city manager’s adjusted spending plan proposes to use $ 91 million for projected deficits in current and future fiscal years, and an additional $ 21.7 million to replenish restricted funds that have lost revenue during the pandemic. such as parking meters and city tourist tax.

The committee also gave initial approval to five orders from Mayor John Cranley for support programs using ARPA funds, totaling $ 17.5 million.

That leaves about $ 35 million for everything else this year.

“It doesn’t even cover the $ 50 million I want to spend on the Affordable Housing Trust Fund that the city created in 2018,” Council member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney said. “I want to say, [there] there is no more money. “

Initial approval of support programs

The orders passed to committee on Monday were all proposed by Mayor Cranley and had already been announced in recent weeks.

  • $ 2.5 million for ASCEND Cincy, a minority business accelerator
  • $ 7 million for grants to performing and visual arts organizations, administered by ArtsWave
  • $ 4 million for a second round of restoration grants
  • $ 2 million for next phase of outdoor restoration via 3CDC
  • $ 2 million for grants to human service organizations

None of the allocations are final without the approval of the full board; the first occasion for this is Wednesday.

The first four measures were not subject to a roll-call vote; instead, they have gone ahead in a process where a measure is approved as long as there are no objections.

What about next year?

The city’s second ARPA payment of approximately $ 146 million is expected in May 2022. The city manager’s proposal includes $ 66 million to cover the estimated shortfall for fiscal year 2023.

Interim Council Member Steve Goodin said the scale of the deficits was a reality check for Council and the public.

“If we don’t fix structural deficits in the future, if we don’t do anything about the impact of teleworking on our income tax, we’re really going to regret it within a year or so,” Goodin said.

Some members say the board needs to focus on the most immediate effects of the pandemic.

“When you have people who are hungry, who are homeless, who have no jobs, who cannot have babysitting, we have to take care of them now,” Kearney said. “It’s a state of emergency.”

Mann says he hopes to work out some final decisions at a meeting next Tuesday, with discussions and votes on the dozens of proposed motions and orders to spend that money.

Vice President Chris Seelbach continues to object to the board moving so quickly. He points out that the US Treasury still has not issued initial guidelines on how the money can be spent.

Check out the City Director’s updated proposal for ARPA spending below:

Update to City Manager’s Plan for Stimulus Funding through WVXU News on Scribd



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