Cities, counties brace for possible 'fiscal cliff' impact

8:39 PM, Nov 27, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- County and city governments are bracing for devastating budget cuts and a fiscal cliff-caused recession they hope will never happen.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald says a worse case scenario could mean more than $100 million in budget cuts.

"If they fail to reach a compromise, the pain of that will be felt locally," he said.

And it could mean "enormous layoffs" in the county with dramatic cuts, including human services programs like job training, nutrition and daycare subsidies.

He believes a compromise will be reached, but the county's financial numbers crunchers are preparing an emergency budget just in case it's not.

Fiscal Cliff: Expanded Coverage

In Warrensville Heights, the holiday cheer is clouded by fiscal cliff fear at City Hall.

Mayor Brad Sellers puts his level of concern at "8.5" on a scale of 1 to 10.

Ohio counties and cities have already endured significant state budget cuts over the past two years and more are expected.

Warrensville Heights does not depend heavily on federal funding.

It's biggest immediate concern is the upcoming expiration of a stimulus grant which allowed it to recall laid-off firefighters.

It's gone through recent years of belt-tightening, contract negotiating and debt refinancing, which has given the city a small financial cushion.

But Sellers is concerned federal tax increases and budget cuts would impact both residents and businesses and further reduce the city's revenue. And he knows more cuts are coming as part of federal spending reduction.

"If we keep laying on problems, you have to make some serious decisions....the bigger question is what does this new normal look like?" he asked.

Cities and counties are already wrestling with bare-bones budgets. The fiscal cliff is a nightmare they hope to avoid.

"We'll be prepared to do what we have to do," FitzGerald said.


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