Friday, February 15, 2013

Some perspectives on the Cincinnati Streetcar

Lurching from crisis to crisis, the Cincinnati Streetcar project has provided endless fodder for the local news.

Indeed, this week's breathtaking news that the project already is some $26 million over budget would make most rational people take a step back and re-think the project.  But "most rational people" apparently does not include the majority of our City Council, the Mayor and the City Administration.

But, stepping back for just a minute, where is this all headed?

  • Even the most ardent proponents of the Streetcar acknowledge that it is not a worthwhile undertaking if it does not eventually extend up to Clifton.   
  • But it has taken six years to get where we are, and it's another two years before we get the first 3.4-mile loop completed (if ever [we think never]).
  • But remember, the state legislature has outlawed further State expenditures on the boondoggle, and Governor Kasich eliminated $52 million in state funds.
  • Our two Congressmen, Steve Chabot and Lt. Col. Dr. Wenstrup, have foresworn providing any further federal funds for the project.
  • In short, other than a massive increase in the City's earnings tax or the bonded indebtedness, resulting in a property tax increase, the Streetcar can't possibly extend up the Vine Street hill.  It's not going to happen in the lifetime of anyone reading this story.
  • And in case you have not noticed, the City is flat broke, deeply in debt and crumbling from within.  We are not maintaining our streets and public buildings.
  • The Streetcar will generate an annual operating deficit between $5 million and $10 million, further straining monies desperately needed for police, fire and trash collection. 
As COAST has said for years, the Streetcar will be a constant source of surprises, all of them negative.  Most of the surprises will be fiscal; some will be operational.

But elections have consequences, and the 2009 and 2011 City Council elections brought us a wildly insane Council majority intent on spending us into the ground.

It will take decades to to recover from these mistakes, if Cincinnati can recover.  We are experiencing an unprecedented loss of capital, a brain drain of young talent, and a relocation of residents and jobs.

This Council is responsible for this disastrous course for the City.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We follow the "living room" rule. Exhibit the same courtesy you would show guests in your home.