Cincinnati streetcar
4:00 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Council to take votes to suspend streetcar project Wednesday

Five of the nine Cincinnati City Council members are expected to vote Wednesday to temporarily suspend work and spending on the streetcar project.  That majority says the pause will allow leaders to figure out the true costs of cancelling the program compared to how much it would cost to complete the first phase of the project. 

Council will vote on 11 streetcar related ordinances.   They all contain monetary appropriations, which likely mean streetcar supporters cannot seek a referendum to overturn them. 

Once again Council heard from about a dozen people Tuesday in favor of the project.

"We're going to pay $40 million for nothing," said resident Scott Miller.  "I don't think it's fiscally responsible to spend $40 million on nothing."

Many supporters again said pausing or suspending the project is the same as cancelling it.  They argue the federal government will pull its grant money as soon as work stops. 

Council Member Yvette Simpson said some questions need to be answered before a consultant is hired to review the details.

"Are we asking them to audit books of the number that we already have, provide new numbers," Simpson said.  "These are questions that you ask before you engage a consultant, before you allocate money to suspend a project.  We should have a real conversation about what those questions are."

Simpson would also like to know how much the city will be spending to suspend or pause the project.

Council Member David Mann said for him the issue is simple.

"What is the cost of stopping, what is the cost of going forward, and what does it make sense as a rational matter for the elected officials of this community to do," Mann said.

Besides the comparison of stopping versus continuing, at least a couple members want information on how much it will cost long-term to operate the streetcar. 

The Council meeting begins Wednesday afternoon at two o'clock at city hall.