Council member calls to postpone streetcar and atrium projects - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Council member calls to postpone streetcar and atrium projects

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Cincinnati City Council member Christopher Smitherman released a statement calling for the postponement of the streetcar and atrium city projects.

"City Council is preparing to raise property taxes to build a streetcar and an atrium. The cost to service the $64 million in streetcar debt is $5 million per year. The cost to build the atrium is $4.4 million. If City Council were to postpone both projects, it would save the capital budget $9.4 million. "It is outrageous to raise property taxes while moving forward on projects that are not priorities for the citizens of Cincinnati. Citizens in Cincinnati do not support increasing their property taxes."

Despite a groundbreaking on the streetcar project, checks from the federal government, and two votes of support on city referendums, Smitherman argues it is not too late to put a halt on the project.

"Send the millions of dollars back to the government," Smitherman said Wednesday.

Smitherman believes the streetcar and property tax increase go hand-in-hand.

"They're trying to raise these taxes now to position the streetcar to run in the black off the back of the citizens of Cincinnati," he argued.

The city, however, says it is too late to put the brakes on the project because the streetcar is already moving forward.

Water utilities are currently being relocated on Elm Street, the city is in talks with the Metropolitan Sewer District on moving utilities, and negotiations with Duke Energy are looking up from following the February impasse announcement.

"I would say between Duke Energy and the City of Cincinnati, we've made good progress," Duke Energy spokesperson Jason Walls told FOX19 Wednesday.

After visiting streetcar projects like the one in Portland, Duke Energy officials say they are willing to compromise on utility location under certain conditions.

"What we really learned from those trips is that with a strong operating agreement you can safely access, safely maintain and continue to provide customers with the reliability that they've come to expect," Walls said.

No one was able or willing to go on camera to talk about the streetcar project at City Hall Wednesday including five fellow council members and staff in the City Manager's office. Some felt the streetcar is a moot political point.

In response, Smitherman sent FOX19 the following statement:

"I would not discuss the Streetcar project if City Council was not preparing to increase property taxes by 23% on Tuesday of next week to pay for [the] capital project. The debt service on the $64 million of debt is $5 million per year. City Council should postpone the $150 million Streetcar and $4.4 million Atrium project with a known $40.8 deficit million deficit."

Smitherman says he would be more than willing to support postponing the atrium project as a separate motion.

"Only half of the [atrium] money was approved but they're compacting everything into this year so that it's not connected to the property tax increase which is absolutely unacceptable," Smitherman said.

City Council members will vote on the proposed property tax increases in a committee meeting Monday. The final full council vote is due by the end of the month.

Copyright 2012 WXIX. All rights reserved.

  • FOX19 HeadlinesMore>>

  • NRA links school violence to Ritalin but experts deny link

    NRA links school violence to Ritalin but experts deny link

    Sunday, May 20 2018 6:51 PM EDT2018-05-20 22:51:57 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 1:26 AM EDT2018-05-21 05:26:22 GMT
    (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP). Flags fly at half staff in front of the justice center at Santa Fe, Texas on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Congregations in this deeply religious community near Houston gathered Sunday for their first worship servic...(Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP). Flags fly at half staff in front of the justice center at Santa Fe, Texas on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Congregations in this deeply religious community near Houston gathered Sunday for their first worship servic...
    The National Rifle Association's incoming president is linking school shootings to using medications such as Ritalin.Full Story >
    The National Rifle Association's incoming president is linking school shootings to using medications such as Ritalin.Full Story >
  • Maduro declared winner in disputed Venezuela election

    Maduro declared winner in disputed Venezuela election

    Sunday, May 20 2018 12:22 AM EDT2018-05-20 04:22:02 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 1:24 AM EDT2018-05-21 05:24:49 GMT
    (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos). Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro makes the victory sign after a meeting with former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, May 18, 2018. Maduro is se...(AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos). Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro makes the victory sign after a meeting with former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, May 18, 2018. Maduro is se...
    Venezuelans vote Sunday in a presidential election with Nicolas Maduro expected to win a second six-year term, despite a deepening crisis that's made food scarce and inflation soar as oil production in the once...Full Story >
    Venezuelans vote Sunday in a presidential election with Nicolas Maduro expected to win a second six-year term, despite a deepening crisis that's made food scarce and inflation soar as oil production in the once wealthy nation plummets.Full Story >
  • School victims honored at Billboard Awards; Janet, BTS shine

    School victims honored at Billboard Awards; Janet, BTS shine

    Sunday, May 20 2018 10:51 AM EDT2018-05-20 14:51:24 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 1:24 AM EDT2018-05-21 05:24:01 GMT
    (AP Photos/Invision, File). FILE - In a May 7, 2018, file photo, Ariana Grande, left, attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating the opening of the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination exhibitio...(AP Photos/Invision, File). FILE - In a May 7, 2018, file photo, Ariana Grande, left, attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating the opening of the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination exhibitio...
    After celebrating her 52nd birthday and the 25th anniversary of her groundbreaking "janet.".Full Story >
    After celebrating her 52nd birthday and the 25th anniversary of her groundbreaking "janet.".Full Story >
Powered by Frankly