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A site dedicated to Cincinnati's Over the Rhine neighborhood.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Big Streetcar Vote This Week! Help Needed!

Update: It appears that Bortz and Berding have decided to vote for the passage of the bonds today as they have been reassured by the mayor and city manager that the city will not proceed with the project unless we receive federal and state funding. It is expected to pass 6-2, and with that we won't even have to worry about the frivilous law suit that Mark Miller and Tom Luken are threatening to send.
Read Here:
Enquirer Update

City Council will be meeting this afternoon to discuss issuing over 60 million dollars in bonds for the streetcar project. This is money the city has planned on using all along for its half of the funding. The other half is expected to come later this year from the federal and state government grant programs the city has applied for. When deciding who gets these funds one of the things the feds look at is the local financial commitment. So far, Cincinnati's has been quite small. That is part of the reason we didn't receive the first round of TIGER grant funds applied for earlier this year. Several of the council members have proposed issuing the bonds only if a contingency is placed on them stating that the city will not use the bonds unless the federal government gives us a certain amount of grant money.

At a meeting with city officials last week, a spokesperson for the federal grant programs warned Cincinnati that placing restrictive contingencies on our portion of the funding would jeopardize our application and chances of receiving funding.
We need 5 votes for the bonds to pass without contingencies. Bortz and Berding need to be convinced not to ask for contingencies on the bonds and to release them unconditionally, otherwise the entire project could be at risk.
Please take the time to email them now and tell them you want to see the project move forward now. Tell them to vote yes for the bonds without any contingencies!

* Jeff Berding = jeff.berding@cincinnati-oh.gov
* Chris Bortz = chris.bortz@cincinnati-oh.gov

Read Below for more info:
Enquirer Article


COAST said...

Today you need 5 votes to pass out of committee. But Wednesday's vote will be on an "emergency" ordinance, so you'll need six votes then. Hopefully Bortz will be one of them. It doesn't matter whether he votes yes or no. If he votes at all, the resulting criminal indictment should poison the Federal well, and end this trolley foolishness for a good long time.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am behind the times here, but can someone explain to me:

1) Why are streetcars worth going further into debt over? What are some numbers showing the economic revival they will bring?

2) Why are streetcars the right choice and not some other form of transportation?

3) Where are we going to get the money to pay for them? I think it'd be a "nice to have," but considering the fact that most states (especially those leaning Blue) are in massive fiscal trouble because of overspending, why would we want to continue to overspend?

Jason said...

COAST: Mr. Miller, as I presume that's who wrote this post. You should know as well as everyone else that your frivilous law suit will hardly even be acknowledged let alone hold up in court. Nice effort though.

To anonymous below, you're right you are behind the times, but that's okay. Your questions are easily answered many times over in lots of different places.
Let me direct you to Cincystreetcar.com
There you can find answers to all of your questions and more. I'd try to answer them here, but I just don't have time and I've already done so many times before if you read through my previous blog posts.
Please look at that site with an open mind. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Jason- Thanks for the response. I see the rosy projections there, and the "10 to 1" return on invested dollars. That all seems great and dandy.

It doesn't answer where the money is coming from now.

The Enquirer states that $28 mil is from bonds, $25 mil is a loan on projected future tax revenues along the route, and $11 mil from selling the Blue Ash airport.

So, we are banking on bonds, which basically mean we pay the $28 mil back with interest later, and on assumed tax revenue increases from development. When was the last time a government projection was right?

If people REALLY want the streetcar, why don't they form a non-profit or corporation and raise funding for it in the city? I'm sure the city would love to have the help and to rid itself of the risk. Cincinnati already has $1.5 billion in pension liabilities (like everywhere else)... so going another $50 mil into debt is a good idea?

We can look at other projections from cities all day, and its not as rosy as the advocacy site says. TriMet announced budget shortfalls.

Again, I am not against it per se, but is now the right time? Why is this not a private venture instead of a burden on future taxpayers in the city and a gamble of economic viability? It's easy to say "the rich will pay for it," its harder when you've gotta put up yourself for something you think will work.

Jason said...

"Again, I am not against it per se, but is now the right time? Why is this not a private venture instead of a burden on future taxpayers in the city and a gamble of economic viability?"

Let me ask you this: When will there ever be a "right time?" Cincinnati has been sitting around waiting for the "right time" to do a lot of things, but that doesn't get anybody anywhere. We need to be progressive, not stagnant. Have you ever heard anyone say "Gee, I'd like to move to Cincinnati, they've got their budget all balanced and they have plenty of money to fill pot holes and collect garbage! I definitely want to live there!"
Of course that won't happen. Instead, you will have people saying "I hear Cincinnati is doing great things with its downtown, its even investing in a modern streetcar system"

As to why aren't private investors stepping up? Well, that's easy, because its not a money making venture from a business standpoint. Its going to require subsidies, just like roads/highways and other infrastructure projects require. The government subsidizes the roads and highways we drive on, quite heavily in fact, so why aren't private investors spending money there? The point is to spur economic development along the route, which brings money to the city in the form of increased tax revenue from the new residents and businesses along the route. For that, its worth the building and operating costs to the city because the economic return is so much greater than the intial investment. Portland has seen a return of 14:1 on the dollar invested! Show me a better use for public funds that can get that kind of return to the city.

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