Cleveland has a $2.6 million surprise

CLEVELAND (AP) - Mayor Jane Campbell has about $2.6 million more to spend this year than the city had anticipated.

She wants to use it on more police and housing inspectors. The city's Recreation Department would get $1 million for pay raises and to study the condition of recreation centers.

This year's nearly $500 million proposed budget includes an unexpected boost because the city was conservative in its revenue projections last year, the mayor said.

The city also generated an extra $1.5 million in admissions taxes from big-ticket events such as the Cirque du Soleil performances and concerts by Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones.

That helped offset a drop in income tax revenue.

Campbell must get City Council's approval for unexpected spending. Council President Frank Jackson said the mayor's plan will be debated as part of council's 2003 budget hearings that start Tuesday.

Campbell had planned to hire 30 new police officers, but now wants to hire 60. About 40 officers are expected to retire this year.

The mayor also proposes to put $250,000 back into the rainy-day fund. Last year, the city withdrew $6 million from the fund to offset a deficit. Reserve accounts such as the rainy-day fund are used to determine the city's bond rating.

"We told Wall Street we'd reinvest in the fund as soon as possible," Campbell said. "This is a show of good faith."

Campbell said one factor that could complicate the budget is the amount of state aid the city gets.

Last year the state gave Cleveland about $61.3 million -- $750,000 less than the previous year. Campbell expects another cut this year.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)