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Cleveland begins search for consent decree funds

Posted: 7:58 PM, Sep 29, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-29 23:58:18Z

The estimated cost of implementing the requirements of the Department of Justice consent decree will start at $13.2 million in 2016 and at least $8 million a year following for five years.

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That $13.2 million represents 2.4 percent of the city's $542 million budget.

"Well that's a lot of money," Council President Kevin Kelley said after hearing a preliminary breakdown of the costs.

When Mayor Frank Jackson introduced this year's spending plan in January it came with a $2.4 million surplus, but that surplus only came after the city rolled over $49.6 million in leftover funds from the previous year, otherwise the city would have been looking at a deficit.

"There is no anticipation of any new taxes or fees that would positively impact revenue collection," the budget stated.

In addition, it went on to project the loss of nearly $7 million from the elimination of the city's traffic cameras and other revenue losses.

Councilman Mike Polensek wants to know, where the money is coming from next year?

"I want to be able to say to my citizens that they're not going to see any basic city services reduced any more than what they have been already in our neighborhoods," he said.

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Polensek argued that would work against everything the consent decree is trying to achieve.

"Because at that point we have the possibility of having more disinvestment, having more families leave the city," he said.

The city will look to the business community and to area foundations for help in offsetting some of the costs, seeing it as protecting the investments that have already been made in Cleveland's future.

In the meantime Council President Kevin Kelley said all things are on the table.

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"This is a large chunk of our budget, so I think it's really going to need to be all hands on deck to try to figure out solutions to this," Kelley said.

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