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Waiting for the final votes on streetcar project
CINCINNATI (WKRC) -- Thursday is the deadline to decide on the fate of Cincinnati's streetcar project, either vote yes to restart the paused project or vote no and lose millions in federal funding. The city's streetcar committee met this morning ahead of a full council meeting this afternoon. Local 12's Joe Webb has the latest in this long drawn-out saga from City Hall.
Mayor John Cranley described today as decision day for the streetcar project for Cincinnati. It now looks like the future of the project hinges on the vote of one city council member, new member Kevin Flynn. It appears there is a 5-4 majority vote to restart the project and keep the $44 million in federal funding, that will go away at midnight if the project is not restarted. But a sixth, very crucial vote, is needed to avoid Mayor Cranley's promised veto.
This morning, the full city council was presented with the KPMG study on shutdown costs versus completion costs. At 2pm, they will meet for a final vote on the project. This morning, council members P.G. Sittenfeld and Charles Winburn told Local 12 they believe the six votes are there for restarting the streetcar but Kevin Flynn has not confirmed that. He says he spent the night talking people working to cover the streetcar's operating costs and he said this morning he is moving in the direction to restart, "if I can get the solid commitments that i'm looking for."
Says Sittenfeld, "I think work continues down to the wire, down to the last minute but I actually do believe when the final votes are cast, 6 votes will be there to move to go forward with this project to avoid the waste of tens of millions of dollars, to avoid huge damage to the city's reputation. I think the streetcar will go ahead."
Mayor Cranley says "of course I'll move forward, of course we'll get past this either way, I believe in Cincinnati with or without a streetcar. So, if they have the votes to override and move forward, then we'll move forward. If we don't have the votes then we'll stop. But cincinnati is not going to rise or fall on the streetcar."
SORTA CEO Terry Garcia Crews spoke about the agency's proposal to take operating costs off the books. She offered city council some assurances, but no hard guarantees. At this point city council members are well briefed, there's no new information that can be out there on the pros and cons. They have until midnight answer the $44 million question that will decide if Cincinnati has a streetcar.