City officials bicker over using rainy day fund to cover police overtime

City officials bicker over using rainy day fund to cover police overtime

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A proposal by four City Council members to tap into the city of Cleveland's rainy day fund started as a debate, then turned into bickering at a safety committee meeting on Wednesday.

"We're talking about 116 homicides. This is the felonious assaults -- 54 on a page felonious assaults in this city and counting. I mean, we got a problem here," said Councilman Mike Polensek.

Polensek joined three other council members in asking for money for more police on the streets. The deaths of three young children by senseless gunfire was a rallying point.

This is what was considered:

"Simply authorizes the director of finance to move $1 million from the rainy day fund for police overtime," said Councilman Joe Cimperman.

Councilman Zack Reed is the primary sponsor.

"One hundred sixteen people have been murdered in the city of Cleveland right now. That is not normal," said Reed.

But both the public safety director and the director of finance oppose the transfer.

"The rainy day fund should not be tapped for operating expenses," said Director of Finance, Sharon Dumas.

The problem in tapping into the rainy day fund is that it is a barometer used by lenders and bond issuers to rate the city's finances. If it gets too low, borrowing costs go way up.

Several council members believe the idea is poorly developed or shallow. Public Safety Director Mike McGrath believes the money would make little difference.

"If you were to take $1 million and add additional police officers, you're talking 10 police officers," said McGrath.

"Mr. Chairman, 1180-15 is, from my perspective, a cry for help," said Councilman Jeff Johnson.

"People are disinvesting. They're leaving. They're leaving! Look at the population base in Glenville. Glenville High School is under 600 kids. They're blowing. They're getting outta dodge, 'cause they're not safe," explained Polensek.

The lively debate won't be the last. The matter will be reviewed again by the finance committee.

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