Saturday, December 15, 2012


By law, Ohio municipalities need to at least plausibly have balanced budgets.  In order to do that, politicians must do something that is against their nature: obtain as much in revenues as they choose to spend.

Cities that are governed properly, Republican and Democrat, have structurally balanced budgets.  In other words, they don't use the one-time sale of assets and other budgetary gimmicks to obtain that plausible balancing. Poorly-governed municipalities, on the other hand, sell the seed stock to feed the herd, leaving nothing for the Spring planting.

The latter is the case in Cincinnati.  Mayor Mallory has foolishly mortgaged the farm, eaten the seed, sold the virginity of his three beautiful daughters and burned the barn as he leaves office next December after eight years in office.  He will leave the City in a shambles, chaos.

The latest example is the plan to raise at least $21 million to fill a one-year operating budget gap this year by selling the rights to collect revenue from on-street parking in the City for 30 years.  One, two or three years from now the budget will be just as out-of-balance as it is today, but that asset will be gone.  And we will have more than $50 million in new debt from the Streetcar, and a pension system that is hundreds of millions of dollars under water.

Interestingly, Mallory's carefully-assembled coalition of crazy lefties actually rebelled in this last budget cycle on some of his budgetary plans -- refusing to eliminate earnings tax reciprocity, and refusing to take the property tax up to the authorized maximum 6.1 mills.  This, without commensurate spending cuts, actually makes the chaos at City Hall -- the structural imbalance of the budget -- even worse. 

By the time the fiscal chickens come home to roost, Mallory won't even live in Cincinnati any longer, and we will be left holding the bag.

So, more than ever before, City Hall is enveloped in financial and management chaos.  And with an election for four-year terms of the Council and a new Mayor in 2013, it looks to get much worse before it gets better.

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