Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory last week introduced a $364 million budget for 2008 that would add about $4 million to the operating budget and $600,000 to the capital budget, as well as eliminate several fees and cuts proposed in the city manager’s original spending plan.

Mallory’s recommendations came after the City Council Finance Committee said revenue projections for 2008 increased by $3.5 million over what was expected earlier this month. Additional revenue will come from $534,000 that was saved from a new contract with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union.

The city will also generate additional revenue by funding Cincinnati’s retirement fund at 17% of total payroll as opposed to 21% as recommended by the city manager. By funding the retirement system at 17%, the city will retain its current funding level of 94%, Mallory said.

An additional $600,000 in the capital budget would come from cutting money currently allocated to the city’s fleet service.

The budget would add 65 new police officers to the force and increase police overtime funding to $1.5 million. Mallory recommended eliminating a solid-waste fee that would have generated $1.5 million in 2008, as well as a gas light fee that would have generated $100,000.

The capital budget restores $600,000 in funding for the Cincinnati Art Museum, Music Hall, and Union Terminal that had been cut two years ago before Mallory took office. “We have a responsibility to invest in our own assets and to maintain our own buildings,” the mayor said in a press conference on the budget recommendations last week.

But the budget continues to suffer from a structural imbalance as expenditures continue to outpace revenues, Mallory noted. “We will be able to balance this particular budget, but we cannot go through another budget process before we have a very long and drawn out conversation about our expenditures and revenues,” he said.

The Finance Committee began debate of the proposals this week. The City Council has until the end of the year to pass a balanced budget.

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