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Taxpayers lawyers have their say in parking lease appeal


A three judge panel of Ohio First District Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments Monday in a case concerning the city's parking lease.  

The city argues a Hamilton County Judge made an error when he declared all city ordinances are subject to referendum.  It also argues the plaintiffs who brought the case don't have standing to bring their claims.  

The lawyers who filed the lawsuit for the taxpayers submitted their brief to the appeals court Monday.  

They argue their clients have standing because asking the city solicitor to represent them in such a case would be a "vain, useless and futile act."  

Generally taxpayers have to ask the Solicitor John Curp to take action with a written letter, but that didn't happen in the parking case.  The taxpayers said that would have been a waste of time since Curp was working with Council on the parking lease.  

Concerning emergency ordinances, the opposing lawyers write it's a fundamental rule that appellate courts review judgments, not reasons for judgments.  

They said the trial court didn't issue a judgment which declared that all of Cincinnati ordinances are subject to referendum, the decision only focused on the parking lease ordinance.  

The lawyers wrote "the Appellants (the city) do not seek or call upon this Court to review the judgment of the trial court but, rather, seek an advisory opinion from the Court."  

Appeals Judges Penelope Cunningham, Patrick Dinkelacker and Pat DeWine will hear the case.  One of them will be assigned to write the court’s opinion.  The losing side will likely ask the Ohio Supreme Court to review the case.

In March, Hamilton County Judge Robert Winkler issued a permanent injunction preventing Cincinnati officials from signing a lease agreement with the Port Authority to oversee most of the city's parking facilities.  He ruled residents have a right to put the issue on the ballot even though Council approved the plan as an emergency ordinance.  

The city manager had planned to use revenue from the parking lease to help balance the upcoming General Fund budget, which must be in place by July 1st.  

Milton Dohoney and city administrators are now drafting a budget without that revenue that will likely include laying off more than 300 workers including police officers and firefighters.