Guest editorial by Cincinnati City Council candidate Amy Murray:
When I ran for Cincinnati City Council last fall the streetcar issue was front and center. While my positive vision for the city could easily include some form of progressive transport, I see the streetcar as a “want” in today’s real environment, not a “need”. At a time when families and businesses across the country are reflecting on their pocketbooks and budgets, I believe the leadership at City Hall needs to be doing the same.
From the outset there really have been two pertinent issues. One is the concept of the streetcar and the image of a progressive urban transport infrastructure that will hopefully spur development. The other is the financial basics: How much does it cost to build? How much will it cost to operate? These are questions that Cincinnati’s taxpayers face every day before making purchases and investments. Shouldn’t our City leadership be doing the same? Cincinnati City Council has moved ahead without even addressing the operational funding. Where will the money come from? Citizens deserve more specifics on the financial basics and the short and long term impact on our city, already struggling to stay above water.
Council’s recent approval of $64 million in bonds has prompted many (including the Enquirer) to ask, “Where is the plan?” I would rephrase that to “Where is the money?” The bottom line is not about the streetcar, but about the money.
Recall our city budget shortfall precipitated by a flawed and unrealistically optimistic positive income tax estimate. In addition, the city pension fund is in deep crisis with no current solution. Meanwhile, swimming pools across the city are being shut down. But yet, Cincinnati City Council is irresponsibly spending more money on a streetcar with no evidence of being able to maintain it.
When are we planning to put our financial house in order? The events of the past two years should have taught us all that living on credit is not sustainable. Fixing the current financial crisis in our city will be difficult and not without some pain and sacrifice. Nevertheless, it seems fundamental that we must first fix the one crisis before walking headlong into a potential second one.
City Council Candidate 2009