Month: November 2010

Cincinnati Passes Streetcar Supporting Zoning

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On November 24th City Council passed an amendment to the Zoning Code to support higher density redevelopment around the Cincinnati Streetcar route.  The amendment allows for the Planning Director to approve a 50% reduction in the required number of parking spaces for residential units along the streetcar line.  If, following the reduction, the building would be required to have fewer than three parking spaces, then no parking spaces need to be required.

This zoning amendment, along with other zoning changes like the creation of the Urban Mixed district in the Brewery District (which allows a mix of higher-density uses) will help ensure that our investment in the streetcar will reach its full redevelopment potential.  Higher residential densities mean more people will be able to move into the urban core.  The increased income taxes from these new residents will benefit all of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods. Rising property taxes will mean more funding for Cincinnati Public Schools, and greater sales taxes will help Hamilton County’s bottom line.

This year, as in years past, Cincinnati is faced with an Operating Budget deficit (the part of the budget that pays for Fire, Police and City Employee’s salaries).  Building the streetcar won’t use funds from the Operating Budget, but the economic growth and redevelopment strategies the City of Cincinnati is pursuing—including the streetcar, the Banks, the Casino and the investments being made in Uptown—will help grow our city’s revenue sources and help us avoid the chronic budget deficits that plague our City. Economic development and growth is vital to the future success of our region. The Cincinnati Streetcar is one important project that will help create jobs for Cincinnati and tie together development throughout our urban core.  Support our City’s Future—Support the Cincinnati Streetcar.

Streetcar Has No Impact on City’s Deficit

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From the City Manager’s proposed 2011/2012 budget:

“By now it should be painfully obvious that the City will never sustain its goals for service delivery by perpetually cutting. While cost avoidance and cost containment are always important, there are a number of things vibrant cities are expected to do and it takes revenue to do it. That must come from new jobs, new investment, new business coming and existing businesses expanding. That work will continue to happen through the administration offices of Economic Development and Community Development & Buildings, City supported 3CDC, plus an expanded role of the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority.

The continued development of The Banks, casino, streetcar system, and working partnerships with the Chambers of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Film Commission, Uptown Consortium, and others will help move the needle forward. The operating budget contains no line item money for streetcar, and even if it were not being built the deficit would still be $58.7 million.

Read the entire budget here.

Streetcar Funds Cannot Be Used for Operating Expenses

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CincyStreetcar.com

Q: The City of Cincinnati will be using Capital Funds to construct the streetcar. Can the City of Cincinnati use Capital Funds to pay for operating expenses, such as city employee’s salaries?

Lea Eriksen, City Budget Director

A: The sources of funding for the City’s General Capital budget include a dedicated portion of City’s Income Tax (0.15% of the 2.1%), a dedicated portion of the City’s Property Tax (5.36 mills out of 9.89 mills), and lease payments from the City owned Southern Railway.   All of these sources are restricted by City Charter and/or State Law to be used for “permanent improvement” purposes.  A permanent improvement is defined as an asset with a useful life of at least five years and a value of at least $10,000.   The City can not by Law use the funds from the General Capital budget to pay for operating expenses such as Police Officer salaries.

Casino Developer: Banks, Streetcar, Casino to Boost Downtown

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From the Enquirer:

ENQUIRER: Can a single casino revive a downtown?

CULLEN: We want to be part of the solution – we’re not suggesting we are the solution. With The Banks and the streetcar, it’s going to be a very different downtown as a result of all these projects. We think in this case you can add two plus two and have it equal six by leveraging what’s there.

Read the rest here.