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Cincinnati Council Debating Streetcar Operating Budget

Jay Hanselman

A Cincinnati Council committee spent about two hours Thursday debating how much money to give the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) to operate the streetcar in the next fiscal year. 
The transit agency requested $4,198,575 for expenses related to the streetcar's operation. City administrators have proposed reducing that to $4,063,575. The city cut $100,000 for a study required by the federal government to create a permanent monthly streetcar pass. It also cut $35,000 from the marketing budget.

Council Member Kevin Flynn said the operating expenses can be reduced even further.  

"I plan on voting to support a streetcar budget that will allow the streetcar to operate," Flynn said. "But because of the differing numbers and the way things have come out it's very difficult to get clarity."

Flynn wants to see more accurate revenue and expense numbers before voting on an operating budget.

Anytime the streetcar is discussed in council chambers, some council members take the opportunity to question whether the city should have invested in the streetcar in the first place. Vice Mayor David Mann is tired of that.

"It is here and our responsibility is to pursue positive ways to support this huge investment and not re-litigate the question of whether the investment should have been made," Mann said.

The Budget and Finance Committee will discuss the issue again Monday and could vote on a plan then.  The full council could vote Wednesday. A streetcar operation funding plan must be approved by June 30.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.