The Cincinnati Streetcar Project is rolling forward, at least for now.
The outgoing Cincinnati City Council voted on Tuesday, 5 to 3, to pass an emergency ordinance that makes construction of the streetcar a city policy. The ordinance takes effect immediately.
Causing a stir in City Council, newly re-elected councilman P.G. Sittenfeld gave a speech announcing that he has changed his stance on the streetcar. Sittenfeld now says that he supports moving ahead with the project.
Sittenfeld is on the record stating that he doesn't support the streetcar. However, all of this changed on Tuesday with one speech.
"Given where things are, it feels neither prudent nor fiscally responsible to scrap the whole thing," said Sittenfeld. "I'm not going to supply a blank check to the project. I haven't done that in the past, and I'm not going to do that now."
Sittenfeld says he supports the first phase of the project but would like to see property owners along the route voluntarily pay more in property taxes. He states that the property along the route will increase in value once the streetcar is built and that a raise in property taxes will help pay for the streetcar's $4 million annual operating budget.
"I personally wouldn't mind paying more money in taxes because I know that not only will it ultimately increase our taxes, but it will bring more people to my store," says Duru Armagan, a property owner in OTR.
Even though some business owners support Sittenfeld, there is also political fallout for his actions.
"We think that Council member Sittenfeld won an election based on his stance on the streetcar," says Alex Triantiflu. "And yeah, we're just disappointed. Anytime you have a council member who runs on one thing and then decides to flip-flop, we think that's problematic."
Mayor-elect John Cranley says regardless of the change, the fight is on to stop the streetcar.
"We have the votes to stop the spending, and I believe that we are going to have to the votes to stop the project," says Cranley.
As the vote stands now, Cranley does have that – 5 to 4.
Cranley gets sworn in as mayor on December 1. Many say this will be the first issue that he and the new council take up.
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