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City Council Approves $17.4M in Additional Funding for the Cincinnati Streetcar

Work on the Cincinnati Streetcar will be able to proceed following the anticipated approval of $17.4M of additional funding for the project, which City Council’s Budget & Finance Committee approved today.

City Council’s Budget & Finance Committee, which is made up of the full nine-member council, approved two Cincinnati Streetcar-related measures this afternoon at City Hall.

The first was a motion put forth by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls (C) that directed Mayor Mark Mallory’s (D) administration to provide City Council with an updated timeline and schedule, performance measures, operating plan, assessment of project staffing and personnel, progress reports, and develop a “sustainable funding” plan for the Uptown Connector and Uptown Circulator projects planned to follow.

Cincinnati Streetcar

This measure passed 5-3 with P.G. Sittenfeld (D), Christopher Smitherman (I), and Charlie Winburn (R) voting in opposition. The recently appointed Pamela Thomas (D) abstained from voting on the measure.

“Recent funding challenges have highlighted the need for accountability and greater transparency in this major public infrastructure investment,” the motion read. “City Council must take a greater oversight role to instill public confidence in the management of the project.”

The second item voted upon was to allocate an additional $17.4 million to the first phase of the streetcar project, following an additional $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation through its TIGER program last week.

The additional funding will come from City Manager Milton Dohoney’s recommended plan issued in April. This plan includes the reprogramming of $6.5 million from casino area infrastructure, delaying the contribution of $5.4 million to Music Hall capital funds, reprogramming $400,000 from traffic signal replacement and $500,000 from water main relocation/replacement funds, and issuing $4.6 million in new capital debt.

This measure passed 5-4 with Sittenfeld, Smitherman and Winburn once again voting in opposition, but with Thomas then joining them.

Thomas was considered a swing vote on these issues due to her husband’s pro-streetcar position, who previously filled her seat on council. She spoke to her original support for the streetcar project when it included the Uptown Connector in its first phase, but that her support went away from Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) pulled $52 million from the project.

The vote will not become official until City Council votes on the ordinance this Wednesday at its full session, but it is expected that the same nine-member body will vote as they did today.

By John Yung

John joined UrbanCincy in 2011 and immediately established himself as a key member of the UrbanCincy team. A native of Chicago, transplanted to Lebanon, Ohio in his teenage years, John currently resides in Cincinnati’s historic Mt Auburn neighborhood. John earned a Masters of Community Planning degree from the University of Cincinnati in 2013.