Amid the legislation-dumping that regularly occurs before every summer, Sharon Dumas, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s robotically unfazed finance director, slipped in casually to council’s finance committee meeting on Monday and coolly ran through the new reality: The shit is really about to hit the fan.

Next year’s projected deficit is $63 million — $10 million more than the hole Old Silver had to fill last year. Yeah, he’s got nearly $20 million from the sale of Public Hall for the new county convention center, and nearly $10 million still sits in a rainy-day fund. But that still leaves a long row to hoe.

Council members looked like they were wondering how they could buy the Benz with Yugo money now.
Ward 9 councilman Kevin Conwell began ticking off his concerns. “I’m almost finished,” he joked at one point. “You’ve said that five times, Kevin,” replied council president Marty Sweeney, ever protective of hurting the administration’s feelings. Sweeney rolled his eyes and squeezed Conwell’s shoulder. What’s all this number-crunching stuff in the finance committee anyway?

“Just with hospitalization, dental and Worker’s Comp together — that’s $100 million,” said Conwell, marveling to Dumas. “That’s not even talking about paying for salaries.”

Yep, said Dumas. But hey: “We held our rating in the last bond buy,” she noted. And: “Both the state and county have negative outlooks — not us.”

She means this year. Next year, it looks like the city will join them.

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