Officials in Cincinnati, Ohio had hoped that a plan to raise $92 million by outsourcing its parking operations to the Port Authority would balance the budget and stave-off layoffs. But a judge has ruled that such a plan must go before voters before it can be enacted. Subsequently, the City has begun the process to layoff 530 employees.
Opponents to the plan had circulated a petition demanding a public, up-or-down vote on the plan, and that call for a referendum would have delayed implementation until after the start of the next fiscal year. A judge, saying that the city’s charter allows all ordinances to be subject to referendum, even emergency actions. The council approved the ordinance as an emergency action, meaning it was effective immediately and not subject to a 30-day hold.
“The city charter does not specifically exempt emergency legislation from the powers reserved to the people,” wrote judge Robert Winkler.
“We vigorously disagree with [this] decision and are already appealing it to the next highest court,” writes City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. “Unfortunately, time is not on our side. The new fiscal year will begin July 1, no matter what. We are legally required to have a balanced budget from the first day of the new fiscal year. We cannot wait until November to do that. So this comes down to time and money.
“Due to the time it takes to actually get the budget ready to go, we cannot wait any longer. “
The layoff plan had been called Plan B.
According to Bloomberg News, the plantiff’s lawyer, Curt Hartman said that they were: “quite pleased that the judge recognized that the citizens of the city retain the ultimate power and authority by retaining for themselves the right to referendum all ordinances passed by the city council.”