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Streetcar audit released as federal deadline nears

CINCINNATI (WKRC) -- Cincinnati City Council members have in their hands today the latest independent study on comparative costs between streetcar completion versus project  cancellation. This report comes as the city council members prepare to listen to public comments Wednesday afternoon at their regularly scheduled meeting. Local 12's Joe Webb has the latest on the audit.
The 39 page audit on the streetcar was released today. Bottom line,  numbers do not lie. But this is politics, not business, and numbers speak different truths to different people.

KPMG analysis shows a wide range on the shutdown costs. With $34 million already spent on tracks, labor concrete and the like, it would cost $50 to $80 million to stop the project. Now to finish it, the cost is right at $105 million dollars. KPMG also estimates the net operating costs to be between $2 and $2.5 million. That's caught the attention of at least one swing vote, who could sway the majority on city council's vote Thursday. Says David Mann, "the most important thing to me is the city's exposure, per year going forward, is in round numbers $2 million. So you have to ask yourself, given the commitment of SORTA and the others who've come forward and agreed to try to raise some money to cover the operating costs, $2 million that's real money, but if they do anything at all the city's exposure gets to be a pretty small number and that can not be a reason not go forward. "

So Mayor John Cranley, who ran on an anti streetcar ticket and got elected last month, his math is obviously much different than Council member Mann. Cranley says killing the project after looking at this audit report, he sees it as a savings of $102 million. Cranley also has veto power. So unless a second swing vote joins David Mann, they will not have the votes on city council to override Cranley's veto. It's important to note, in all 39 pages, it does not take into account the potential litigation costs of shutting down the project or the potential economic benefits of completing it.

The audit is on Thursday's streetcar committee meeting agenda at 9 a.m. Wednesday afternoon, the city council will entertain for the last time, public comment on the streetcar at the regular meeting at 1:30. Local 12 will be at both meetings. Thursday at midnight, is the witching hour. That's when $45 million in federal funds for the streetcar could vanish if its not started back up.

Click here to read the audit




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