Sunday, August 10, 2008

Initial Budget-Cutting Survey Results

Last week (, I asked readers to make choices about how they would balance our budget. So far, 78 people filled out the survey, and the results are interesting, although not altogether suprising.

I'm sure more will trickle in, but of those indicating what neighborhood they were from, more than half were from outside the City of Cincinnati, so there is some geographical balance to the results.

I can't go through every datapoint, but thought I'd share some general trends:

1. Top Cuts: Bureacuracy

The top answers selected for how to save money were generally in the nature of cutting bureaucracy and encouraging efficiency:

- Eliminate all perks and unnecessary spending such as subscriptions, travel and take home cars (72.7%*)
- Managed competition for County vehicle maintenance and repair, and other services (70.1%)
- Eliminate duplicative County/City criminal prosecution efforts (68.8%)
- Eliminate all non-emergency cellphones for County employees (67.5%)

The other item that rose to the top was that 70% chose to ask townships to either pay all, or a greater share of, the Sheriff's patrols they receive. (This one's been in the press lately).

2. More than 50%

After these items, a number of cuts received a majority support:

- Require all elected official and senior managers to pay for parking (53.2%)
- Charge full rate to City for indigent defense costs (53.2%)
- Continue hiring freeze (51.9%)

The next highest was selling County properties at 44.2%

3. Lukewarm response

Respondents seemed more hesitant to select items that appeared to negatively impact employees, but generally did choose these items over direct cuts in services:

- Institute furloughs/unpaid voluntary leaves (40.3%)
- Salary freeze for all County employees (36.4%)
- Eliminate positions across all County departments (36.4%)
- Salary cuts for all top management (32.5%)
- Require elected officials to give back pay raises (33.8%)

- Considerable lower was reducing County employee health care benefits (20.8%)

4. Most protected: safety, direct services, economic development

With a few exceptions, Respondents were most hesitant to cut into direct services, whether they be safety, economic development, or prevention.

- Close county offices/service on Fridays (31.2%)
- Eliminate hundreds of jail beds/replace with EMU (28.6%)
- Close several floors of Queensgate (22.1%)
- Suspend the Home Improvement Program (16.9%)
- Reduce economic development work by 1/2 (15.6%)
- Reduce capacity of juvenile detention facility (10.4%)
- Eliminate all economic development work (9.1%)
- Eliminate courthouse security (9.1%)
- Reduce buildings and inspections/zoning capacity (9.1%)
- Suspend road repair and maintenance (5.2%)
- Reduce juvenile crime prevention/intervention programs (3.9%)
- Reduce snowplowing and pothole maintenance (2.6%)
- Eliminate Project Disarm (prosecution of gun crimes) (2.6%)

On the other hand, 36.4% said they'd be willing to increase fees for certain services.

5. Taxes

Finally, 41.6% said they'd be willing to raise the sales tax 1/4 cent--which alone achieved the $20M savings (but many respondents wanted to make additional budget cuts anyway).

61% said they'd be willing to add a cigarette tax to offset building costs

44.2% said they'd be willing to increase the property transfer tax

It's not too late to send in a survey--and I'll provide an update if anything significant changes.

* The top numbers may seem lower than you'd expect, but that's because for those respondents who chose to increase the sales tax, a number made few or no cuts (pushing down the percentage for all of them).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let's cut county salaries, do a hiring freeze, take away all their "perks" like training, busines travel, business cell phones, force them to take unpaid days off, and make them pay for county-owned parking spots. At least do this for the 50 percent who make more than $40,000. This will do wonders when it comes to keeping people in this area, as you said you want on your previous post. Also, we'll be able to attract the best and brightest to serve county residents. I am sure services will be top notch. Dewine and Heimlich have this same approach. I should say had because county employees helped boot them out of office.

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