As expected, Cincinnati Council Tuesday passed an ordinance requiring city administrators to complete the first phase of the streetcar project.
City solicitor John Curp was asked to explain the action.
“This would place the directive to proceed with the streetcar as an ordinance, as a law of the city,” Curp said. “Which would obligate the manager to proceed with that directive until another law or ordinance was passed to replace it.”
That means incoming Mayor John Cranley, who opposes the streetcar, cannot issue an order to stop or cancel the project. His interim city manager would also have to proceed with the plan until Council passes an ordinance to stop it.
Council’s action makes halting the project a little more difficult. It also opens the possibility streetcar supporters could gather petition signatures to place the issue on the ballot next November. If that happens, theoretically, construction work on the project could continue to another year.
The new Council is expected to take some vote on the streetcar next week.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld said he won't support an effort to scrap the first phase of the city's streetcar project. He announced his decision Tuesday morning during a speech at city hall.
“Drive along Elm Street or Main Street today and you will see a project for which streets have been dug up, major dollars have already been spent, and Cincinnatians are hard at work on the job,” Sittenfeld said. “And given where things are, it feels neither prudent nor fiscally responsible to scrap the whole thing.”
But Sittenfeld said he is not willing to supply a blank check for the project.
He also wants the operating budget for the streetcar to be covered through a special improvement district, which would require property owners along the route to pay higher taxes. Sittenfeld says neighborhoods not benefiting from the plan shouldn't have to pay to operate it.