Tom McKee
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Special meeting to be held Monday to discuss streetcar

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CINCINNATI - Cincinnati City Council is prepping for a big day on Monday.

Council members will meet to discuss what is next for a possible streetcar for downtown.

On the agenda, council will discuss an additional $29 million added to the streetcar budget.

"$110 million with $64 million of that debt that we're issuing that cost taxpayers $5 million a year in interest," councilman Christopher Smitherman said.

This is something some citizens disagree with.

"It's an enormous expense, and would do little to help the community which is already in good shape," Cincinnati resident Dave Swisher said.

Smitherman said the city is putting all of its eggs in one basket for three and a half miles of a street car that could run from Fountain Square to Findlay Market. He said this will add to the city's already $40.8 million operating deficit.

"We have roads that need desperate repair, we've been failing to do 100 miles a year, we probably need to do 200 miles because of some of the deferred maintenance," Smitherman said.

Many residents oppose the street car, including Maineville resident Carissa Porta.

"Schools are suffering, everything else is suffering and we're paying for a street car thing," Porta said.

Smitherman said he believes council will vote to move ahead on the project. He said six members of council are for the project while he and two others are not.

"They believe that development will happen on the line and that it will spur economic development," he said.

So does college student Katie Grooms.

"Actually living as a student downtown, and living far away, it would be much easier to get down here and not pay for parking," she said.

Cincinnati resident Jack Buchholz said the streetcar is a solution to a need for transportation.

"It would benefit because it's moving people to where they need to go very inexpensively," Buchholz said.

However, Smitherman said he fears there are still a lot of people who aren't grasping details, for example, the hike in energy rates for utility movement to build the project.

Monday's meeting starts at 10:30 a.m.

The public is highly encouraged to attend. Each citizen will be given three minutes to voice his or her opinion.

Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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