Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ghiz to Oppose Streetcar Project

Cites Economy, City Budget Crisis for ‘Difficult Decision’

New Proposal Would Use $800k for Streetcar Study for Public Safety Plan

Councilmember Leslie Ghiz today announced that she would be rescinding her support for the Cincinnati Streetcar Project. An original supporter of the plan, Ghiz said she was forced to change her position due to economic and financial realities. Just yesterday, City Council’s Finance Committee was notified by the Finance Director of a $40 million deficit for 2010.

As with most cities across the country, Cincinnati is faced with some bleak financial numbers. Income tax revenues are expected to dwindle by $11 million this year alone. The street car project’s initial budget, Ghiz noted, proposed to use $25 million from the City Capital budget, of which 27% is funded through the Income Tax.

“My support for this project came at a much different economic time,” said Ghiz. “I’d love to continue this support but in good conscience cannot considering our financial predicament.”

Ghiz also announced a plan today to re-allocate the $800,000 set aside last year to study potential streetcar routes to fulfill the Ghiz-Harris public safety plan to lease electronic monitoring units for City offenders and hire two City Solicitors to aggressively combat blight and nuisance issues.

“Public safety has to be our top focus right now,” she said. “I promised to bring funds forward each week until we find 5 Councilmembers to recognize the looming public safety crisis and act accordingly. This is just the first step.”

Ghiz said she will introduce the ordinance Wednesday for Committee referral.