Proposal to pay for streetcar worries OTR business owner

Proposal to pay for streetcar worries OTR business owner

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - City Councilman Kevin Flynn has outlined a plan that would prove a steady source of funding for streetcar operations.

It's a 3-point plan that includes fares, sponsorships and naming rights.

The second part takes a portion of tax abatements on future downtown and Over-the-Rhine development.The third part comes from higher parking meter rates and extended hour on parking enforcement.

Operating the streetcar is expected to cost about $4 million dollars a year so even streetcar opponent, Mayor John Cranley, says he has to admit that coming up with a stream of funding independent of the city took a lot of work.

"I appreciate the work that went into it to make sure the operations won't come out of our general fund operating budget," said Cranley. "But big picture I still think we're committing a lot of resources to something that I think is not the best use of city investment and time."

Councilwoman Amy Murray, didn't vote for the streetcar, but she believes they've come up with a workable solution.

"I feel fairly confident that this will be fine and we have $900,000 from the Haile Foundation so with that money included we'll be just fine." 

However reaction in Over-the-Rhine is a mixed bag. Nathan Sivitz is opening up the Macaroon Bar and says he's concerned about extended parking enforcement.

"Going to such long enforcement hours and almost seven days a week might be a little extreme and it's really not what people are used to," he said.

OTR resident, Ryan Messer, says the streetcar will only boost economic development.

"These streetcar opportunities across the county have demonstrated that they drive economic development and we would be remiss to not take advantage of that economic opportunity," Messer said.  

Meanwhile, Councilman Christopher Smitherman, a long time  streetcar opponent, says he remains skeptical.

"It's going to be difficult to get me on board. This is a heavy lift for me to support this."

The plan is expected to gain the recommendation of council's transportation committee next Tuesday and, if approved by the full council, the plan would take effect January 1st.

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