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City Manager Signs Parking Lease, Could Make Changes

By German Lopez · June 19th, 2013 · City Desk

The city signed an agreement on June 17 to lease its parking meters, lots and garages to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority, but the mayor and City Council may make changes to the plan before it’s implemented.

At the same time, opponents are moving to appeal the court ruling that allowed the city to sign the lease, which could put the case in front of the Ohio Supreme Court.

For Cincinnati, the plan will first produce a $92 million one-time payment. Following that, the city will get an estimated $3 million a year, which the city says will eventually increase to $7 million and continue climbing afterward.

Still, the city says it won’t spend any funds until there is legal certainty, meaning until potential appeals are exhausted.

Opponents gathered more than 12,000 signatures supporting a referendum on the plan, but an appeals court ruling on June 12 might have killed referendum efforts.

With its decision, the Hamilton County Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s ruling and sided with the city over critics of the plan, deciding that the city can use emergency clauses to avert referendum efforts on passed legislation, including the parking plan.

Emergency clauses also allow the city to bypass a 30-day waiting period on implementing laws. 

The appeals court later refused to delay enforcement of its ruling, which allowed the city manager to sign the lease within days.

In the aftermath, six out of nine council members have backed changing or repealing the plan. A spokesperson for Mayor Mark Mallory says the mayor is open to changes, but the mayor would veto a repeal.

City Solicitor John Curp says the mayor has the power through the City Charter to hold proposed ordinances until the end of his term on Nov. 30, which means the mayor can effectively stop all repeal attempts.

Correction: The city signed the lease June 17, not June 18 as originally reported in the story. The city made the announcement June 18, which caused confusion and miscommunication.



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