The Operating Budget

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Construction along the Portland Streetcar
Construction along the Portland Streetcar

Typically when we discuss the budget on this site, we are discussing the Capital Budget. The Capital Budget funds things like roads, infrastructure and bridges. The City money that will be used to construct the Streetcar will come from the Capital Budget.

The Operating Budget is the budget that pays for pools, recreation centers, fire, and police. This money will not be used to construct the streetcar.

The sources of funding for the Operating Budget can be broken down into two main groups—City Taxes and Other Sources. The Other Sources includes money from the state, money from investments, and permits and fees. City Taxes make up a much larger portion of the Operating Budget.

Of the City Taxes, in 2008 the Income Tax represented 89% of the total city tax revenue that goes into the Operating Budget; Property Taxes were only 11%.

Almost 9 out of every 10 city tax dollars that go toward police, fire, health services, recreation centers, and garbage collection come from the City’s Income Tax.

Downtown is only 0.8 square miles, but it has 34% of all the jobs in entire City. These jobs also have the highest wages in the entire City. Uptown has 20% of the City’s jobs.

Downtown and Uptown, the two places the streetcar will link together, represent a huge portion of the Income Tax, which accounts for around 90% of the tax revenue used to fund City Services throughout the rest of the City’s 46 neighborhoods. Investing in the Streetcar will help attract additional investment in Uptown and Downtown, generate new jobs in our City’s economic engines, and increase the Income Tax revenues that are vitally important for funding City Services in our neighborhoods.

Strengthen all 52 Neighborhoods—Build the Streetcar.


9 thoughts on “The Operating Budget

    David said:
    March 3, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Excellent post! Just one less argument they now have.

    Mark Miller said:
    March 3, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    You left out a key consideration.

    While it’s true that 54% of the city’s jobs are located in those two areas, a high percentage of those employees do not live in the city. They pay City taxes alright, but they don’t vote in City elections.

    If the NAACP’s Charter Amendment passes in November, the fate of the streetcar will rest strictly with City voters. And the vast majority of them neither live nor work in downtown or uptown, but still pay full City taxes.

    Taxation without representation is not a very good strategy for long-term success.

    Chris S said:
    March 3, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Reaping the benefits of higher paying city jobs without paying your fair share for the support infrastructure required to enable the existence of those higher paying city jobs is an even more foolish proposition.

    Randy Simes said:
    March 3, 2009 at 2:55 pm


    So by that rationale do you also think that an illegal immigrant who buys a pack of gum or gallon of gas should have the right to vote?

    I’m not advocating for taxation without representation, but what I’m saying is that is how certain things work. The income tax works like that all over the place in any community that leverages income tax on people who work in the municipality but don’t also live there. Sales tax works the same way.

    What I’m really wondering is what your point is, because this seems to be brought up a lot whenever something is proposed that the suburbanites don’t like. There is a choice you know…those same people could choose to move into the City (like you) and therefore have the right to vote on City issues.

    John Schneider said:
    March 3, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Last I heard, you can only legally vote in one place. So, do non-residents of Cincinnati want to give up their rights to vote where they live in order to vote for how Cincinnati spends its money?

    David said:
    March 3, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Plus, Mark, you don’t demand a vote on whether or not your hard earned tax dollars get spent on a highway project. Why would you seek to impede an infrastructure project that has a higher return on your hard earned tax dollars?

    Mark Miller said:
    March 4, 2009 at 1:10 am

    I continue to believe there are only about 20,000 residents who are going to really feel connected by the proposed streetcar. Several posts back on this blog, a figure of 62,000ish was postulated by adding up all the neighborhoods that touched the route, even if only by a tenuous corner. The feasibility study might be the most accurate of all; they project 5,000 to 8,000 daily trips. They don’t say whether those are round trips or one-way, so the number of people served could even be half of that.

    It really doesn’t matter because all those numbers are a tiny fraction of the City’s 330,000-some residents. Streetcar advocates always seem to dismiss this disparity as somehow not being relevant.

    Now that you’ve discovered the importance of taxpayers, we can run those numbers too. Downtown & Uptown employ about 116,000 people, all of whom pay city taxes which would support the streetcar. But less than half of them are also city residents who might ride it to work, or who are eligible to vote for it.

    So even if all 50,000 of these potential streetcar customers think it’s a dandy idea, It’s still less than 1/3 of the 165,000 or so taxpaying residents. No matter how you slice it, there’s a huge gulf between payers and beneficiaries for this project. Until you fix that, it’s a dead deal.

    The good news is it’s not hard to do. Correct the obvious deficiencies in the route, and I’m guessing about 80%-85% of the cost could be covered with TIF. That would reconcile the problems by painlessly allowing the beneficiaries to bear most of the cost. Voters might go for that.

    Quimbob said:
    March 4, 2009 at 9:31 am

    The benefit to the city of transforming a neighborhood that is a drag on all local taxpayers (heck regional taxpayers as well) into a neighborhood full of lower to middle and even upper class taxpayers is of great benefit to the city.
    It’s a hard concept to sell as most people can’t get past “handout or nothing” mentality. You saw people’s inability to grasp Ron Paul’s message in the last election since it was a kind of “two parter”. This is the same thing.
    Selling people on the streetcar plan will take a lot of education which is why I was advocating a comprehensive printed pece be distributed directly to people in the next 8 months.

    Ben said:
    March 4, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Ok, I’ve got a lot of thoughts on my mind.

    Mark, your argument would be more logical if the Streetcar were solely or even mostly being funded by the city. When in fact as Mayor Mallory has said many times that most of the money is going to come from state, federal and private sources; money that if not spent on the streetcar will simply not be spent in Cincinnati. The idea that the City can’t spend a few million dollars on infrastructure around the city’s largest tax base is just ridiculous.

    I would like Mallory to be more upfront about the actual bill the city might have to foot. If/when the city gets the stimulus money, it would nice to find out how much money can be obtained from each source. That way, if the city will be spending X dollars on the project people can make a more informed decision.

    X(city)+Y(state)+Z(federal)+U(private)=185 million.

    And since when has the NAACP been against investment in poor neighborhoods?

    Maybe Streetcar advocates should start a petition requiring any city money spent on highways within city limits to be put on the ballot. Elected leaders are elected to make decisions. Don’t like it? Don’t vote for them next time.

    I want to know when Cincy will get smart and just swallow up Hamilton County into one Cincinnati Metro Government. It eliminates a lot of unneeded bureaucracy and combines tax revenue.

    Just some thoughts.

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