Mayor Mallory reacts to Chabot letter questioning streetcar

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The streetcar debate continues in the Queen City and on Capitol Hill following Representative Steve Chabot's letter to the transportation secretary.

In the letter Chabot questions: "Would Cincinnati have been awarded this Urban Circulator Grant if the current streetcar plan were the one originally proposed?"

"I'm just trying to make sure that our tax dollars are spent in compliance with the law," Representative Chabot said.

When Chabot wrote the letter to transportation secretary, he says it was not about asking to get the federal streetcar money back.

"No, not necessarily," he said. "It's critical, however, that we make sure every dollar that's spent is spent as it was intended."

While some question whether the letter could be another road block in the construction of the project, Mayor Mallory is not concerned.

"Oh not at all," Mallory said. "I find it to be comical."

Mallory says he is confident the revised project is still right on track.

"I didn't think anything of it at all," he said of the letter. "First of all you cant go back and change the circumstances by which we would have been given the grant."

On one side, Chabot questions whether the smaller, revised project still fits the criteria for federal money. On the other, Mallory argues the streetcar is an even stronger candidate now for federal funding.

"The reason I say that is the federal government requires a 20, 25 percent local match," Mallory explained. "At this point the streetcar project has about a 70 percent match. So this makes the application even stronger."

"I'll reserve my judgment until we get our answer back," Chabot said.

Chabot says he can understand Mallory's push to build the project he believes will be a literal driver for economic growth.

"Sure, and as Mayor of the city that's his responsibility," Chabot said. "As the federal office holder it's my responsibility to make sure that every federal tax dollar is used wisely and that it's used in compliance with the law."

"The bottom line is we have 99 million dollars to have a 95 million dollar project," Mallory said."We're going to get started very soon."

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