Ohio Cities Struggle with Tough Budget Choices

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Several city officials shared their economic survival strategies on 90.3's Sound of Ideas program, and most of them had harsh words for Governor Kasich's plan to chop over a half billion dollars out of the state's local government fund. Traditionally, Ohio has returned a portion of state tax money to cities, but with a purported 8 billion dollar budget hole to fill, the Governor wants to keep more of that money in Columbus. Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson spoke for many of his colleagues, across the state, in protesting the funding cuts.

FRANK JACKSON: We send them dollars and they send us back pennies.

He's already announced the layoff of safety forces and reductions in street repairs. Cuyahoga County is currently deep into cutbacks and consolidations as part of a new charter to reorganize government. Now, County Executive Ed Fitzgerald says more cuts are coming.

ED FITZGERALD: We are going to announce some more employee reductions, this week, and we're just going to keep going. I'm sure it will be in the hundreds, by the time we're through

The Governor and his aides have repeatedly said that the traditional ways many local governments operate aren't sustainable, and that major changes are needed, long term. But, Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory suggests that the state may be shooting itself in the foot with some of the budget proposals.

MARK MALLORY: We are the ones providing the jobs, the resources, to the state of Ohio. So, to cut the local government fund, to cut the estate tax, and the tangible personal properties tax, the delay on the casinos --- all of those things affect cities ability to generate revenue for the state.

Mallory says his city has been able to avoid layoffs, so far, thanks to a one-time revenue source. But, that money will not be available in his next budget, meaning that the cutting of some city staffers could be on the horizon.

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