One of the best results of the Cincinnati City Council election this year was the increase of a civil and sane budget process. Gone are the pissing matches and games of Chicken. Gone are the right-wing demands that require the suspension of the rules of Math.
Sure, we gained a level of insanity in the form of the election of Chris Smitherman, but other than being a pest, he has no power.
The only problem with this situation is that the comfort provided by the Convergys settlement is a one time event. This time next year we will face a budget shortfall again, unless the economy does far better than expected.
With this fact in place the majority members of council can not wait. They must begin the process to examine the 2013 budget as soon as the 2012 is passed. The issue of property taxes must be resolved far earlier then the mid year deadline looming next year. The public needs the whole year to digest the possible cuts that we could face. New ideas can be vetted and discussed. Hell, there will even be time for Winburn and Smitherman to come up with a plan on their own. I'm going to presume that they will be able to use math more correctly than the Republicans of the past, but we'll see.
This is the first test of the new council. How well they do making the budget process open and civil will help us determine the future of this council. We'll have an idea if the seven can work together or if petty squabbles will arise and consume the process.
I am keeping my optimism going. I've not had much of an optimistic attitude about council in recent years. This year my optimism has returned and I hope it stays around for a while.