Cincinnati City Council to vote on streetcar construction

P.G. Sittenfeld announces support of streetcar

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati City Council is set to vote to keep work on the embattled streetcar project going.

Council is expected to vote to keep the work going even as the incoming mayor and new council members say they plan on canceling the project.

The council began meeting at 9 a.m. Follow WCPO's Kevin Osborne on Twitter @kevinwcpo for the latest updates from the meeting.

Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld announced just before the meeting that he would vote to keep the project going.

During a news conference before the meeting, Sittenfeld said canceling the project would cost "well more than 50 percent of the local budget" and the city would have nothing to show for it.

The councilman also said he was concerned about the damage to the city's relationship with the federal government if the project is canceled.

“We can pursue a project that has never earned broad public consensus and that has yet to offer a viable and sustainable budget," Sittenfeld said.

“Or, we can scrub the project and throw away tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money, forego a massive Federal investment, and have nothing to show for the enormous effort and expense.”

Sittenfeld made it clear that he still has reservations about the scope and cost of the project and emphasized that he had voted “no” on it before.

The councilman asserted that if the incoming council votes to scrap the streetcar, the cost would be in the tens of millions of dollars.

“So no matter what, no matter whose numbers or whose analysis you believe, canceling the project would mean that more than 50 percent of the local budget for the project would be spent and gone - with nothing to show for it,” Sittenfeld said.

Sittenfeld said he would like to pay for the operation of the streetcar with a "special improvement district" so those "whose property value will most benefit from the presence of a streetcar will pay for the added benefit by voluntarily raising the contribution of their property taxes."

Sittenfeld said he wants the payment addressed this way because he says residents in other neighborhoods should not have to pay for the streetcar. He also said operating costs should not be part of the city's budget.

The young councilman claims that of the streetcar’s budget, only $1 million will be covered through rider tickets and another $1 million from advertising and sponsorships.

The councilman did not comment about the Uptown leg of the streetcar.

If the incoming council votes to implement Cranley's plan, there are five votes to cancel the project. However, there may not be the required six votes to make it an emergency ordinance and the vote would need 30 days to take effect.

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