Monday, December 8, 2008

Issue Education - City Council Budget Proposals - Streetcar Funding

CincyPAC members and supporters,

As we gear up for 2009 and prepare to educate ourselves and our council members on the issues and initiatives most related to attracting and retaining young talent in Cincinnati, it is important that we stay tied into the issues we said were important in 2007 and 2008. As you come across articles of importance to this goal, please forward them to csk@gdm.com or add them to this blog. The more educated we are, the better we can serve our community.

CincyPAC Issue: The Streetcar
Our Stance: Adequate Public Transportation: Cincinnati needs a street car and it should connect downtown and uptown in the first phase. We also need to revamp Metro Bus routes, clearly label routes and schedules at major stops, and ensure that SORTA and TANK work together seamlessly.


Today's Business Courier posted the following article related to the Streetcar:

Cincinnati council submits budget proposals
Business Courier of Cincinnati - by Dan Monk Senior Staff Reporter

Cincinnati’s streetcar initiative could get a haircut under new budget proposals submitted by two members of City Council.

Finance Committee Chairman John Cranley proposed eliminating $60 million in streetcar funding so the money can be “reprogrammed for other purposes,” including $25 million for the Central Riverfront Park that’s being built in conjunction with the Banks project and $25 million for repaving of city streets. Councilman Chris Monzel proposed eliminating $11 million in funding for streetcars in 2009. He offered no alternate plans for the money.

The proposals come as council works to pass a two-year budget for 2009 and 2010. Both Monzel and Cranley previously voted in favor of a streetcar system, authorizing the city manager to begin raising money for the project in April. They were the only members of council to identify streetcar cuts in budget proposals submitted late last week.

The Finance Committee is slated to debate various budget proposals Monday afternoon, with the goal of finalizing a budget in the next week or two. A hiring freeze and the delay of police and fire recruit classes are among the operating cuts proposed in recent weeks. The streetcar cuts were among several changes in capital spending outlined by various members of council in advance of the finance hearing.

In other budget proposals:

• Councilwoman Roxanne Qualls wants to eliminate $850,000 in planned spending for the Kennedy Connector, a road project that was aimed at stimulating new development in Oakley. Instead, she would spend $750,000 over two years on the Clifton Cultural Arts Center and commit $350,000 to “eco improvements” at Pleasant Ridge Park.

• Vice Mayor David Crowley proposed shifting $350,000 from the Kennedy Connector to the Clifton center.

• Councilman Cecil Thomas proposed a $3.6 million commitment to the Glencoe hotel and condominiums project in Mount Auburn, shifting funds from city capital accounts earmarked for housing initiatives.

• Thomas and Cranley proposed a $392,000 commitment to the $2.9 million renovation of the Cincinnati Business Incubator facility. “The building, which has historic designation, is crumbling,” said Thomas’ motion.

• Cranley proposed spending $2 million on a streetscape project in Mount Lookout and $500,000 on a “senior housing development” planned by the neighborhood group Price Hill Will.

The city’s operating budget was also targeted for adjustments as three members of council – Cranley, Monzel and Laketa Cole – proposed reductions in car allowances for city employees and excised Mayor Mark Mallory’s request to expand his staff. The mayor proposed adding a sixth full-time equivalent employee, at a two-year cost of $100,000. Cole, Cranley and Qualls all proposed increasing fines for parking violators, with proposals they estimate would raise an extra $269,000.

The city manager’s budget proposals involving garbage collection remain under attack. City Manager Milton Dohoney wanted to impose a fee for residential trash service, but that idea was rejected by Mallory.

Now, some members of council are opposing Dohoney’s efforts to modernize the city’s curbside collection program by studying the use of automatic lifts on garbage trucks. Councilmembers Cole and Monzel proposed eliminating Dohoney’s request for a $300,000 solid waste study to explore the idea.

8 comments:

Brad Thomas said...

I think everyone would agree that a streetcar linking Uptown and Downtown, the region’s two largest employment centers, would be a tremendous asset for the City of Cincinnati and the region as a whole, but I am curious as to why the CincyPAC stance on the streetcar states that the streetcar should connect Uptown and Downtown in the first phase. The Economic Impact Study determined the Cincinnati Streetcar would have a 2.7 to 1 benefit to cost ratio and generate $1.4 billion of economic development along the 3.9 mile loop connecting Downtown, Over-the-Rhine and the Riverfront. The University of Cincinnati's independent evaluation of the streetcar also only examined that route, which it found to be an economically worthwhile investment, with cost to benefits in line with what the Economic Impact Study predicted. The streetcar can and should connect Uptown and Downtown, but if funding isn’t available to go to the University on the first phase would CincyPAC support a first phase connecting Downtown, Over-the-Rhine and the Riverfront?

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