Saturday, June 6, 2015

Enquirer: Now we know Streetcar operating costs

So, part of the Streetcar shell game during the reign of Mayor Mark Mallory and Finance Committee Chair Roxanne Qualls was to never project operating income den expenses from the Streetcar.  Yes, it is hard to believe, but City Council and the administration steadfastly refused, before, during and after embarking on the Streetcar boondoggle, to run numbers for an operating budget, until now.

This was by design and for two reasons: First the number would have been unacceptably large, and second because it deviated from their standard theme that the Streetcar "costs" were entirely capital in nature.  Indeed, the whisper campaign they started and perpetrated was that the ticket sales and advertising revenue from the Streetcar would pay the operating costs.  It was, of course, the foundation of Rob Richardson, Jr.'s false claims complaint against COAST to the Ohio Elections Commission on behalf of Streetcar advocates that no operating fund dollars were getting plowed into that wasteful project.

The underlying theme of all of these mechanizations was that the Streetcar would have no impact on City operations.  Because the City cannot run a deficit like the federal government, any losses must be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget (i.e., police, fire, or road maintenance) or by (heaven forbid!) revenue increases.  And the City could not tolerate admitting that it intended to ultimately cut police and fire services to fund their pet Streetcar-to-nowhere project or -- gulp -- to raise taxes.

Of course, that was all a lie, a ruse, a smokescreen, a shell game.  As the Enquirer so accurately states in its headline today: Now we know.

Now we know the truth: The Streetcar is going to cost the taxpayers $4.7 in losses per year.  That's $4.7 million per year from police protection; $4.7 million per year from fire protection; $4.7 million per year from road maintenance.  That's because there is no other source of operating funds and nowhere else to cut from the City Budget.

At some point, the number $3,5 million in operating losses was tossed out there by the City.  COAST called bullshit on that, and proudly calculated and predicted that the losses would be in the $5 to $10 million per year range.  And understanding that the City's current $4.7 million operating loss number does not include depreciation of the rolling stock and other known expenses of operating the Streetcar, it loos like COAST's projections will be spot on.

So, Rob Richardson, Jr. who exactly was lying and who was telling the truth?

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