by German Lopez
Funding for development at Fourth, Race streets also gets approval
City Council today approved funding and accountability measures for the Cincinnati streetcar project, allowing the project to move forward.On Monday, the Budget and Finance Committee approved the measures, which CityBeat covered in further detail here. The funding ordinance closes the streetcar project's $17.4 million budget gap by issuing more debt and pulling funding from various capital projects, including infrastructure improvements around the Horseshoe Casino. The accountability motion will require the city manager to update City Council with a timeline of key milestones, performance measures, an operating plan, staffing assessments and monthly progress reports.Council members Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Chris
Seelbach, Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young voted for the measures.
Council members P.G. Sittenfeld, Chris Smitherman and Charlie Winburn
voted against both. Councilwoman Pam Thomas voted against the funding
ordinance, but she voted for the accountability motion.City Council also unanimously approved funding for a development project on Fourth and Race streets, which includes a downtown grocery store, luxury apartment tower and parking garage to replace Pogue's Garage. CityBeat covered that project in further detail here.
3 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Against all the odds, naysaying and
obstructionism it’s faced, Cincinnati’s streetcar project is moving
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
A new report found many "megadeals" rarely produce the kind of jobs initially touted by public
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
City Council on June 24 approved
increased funding along with additional accountability measures that
will close a $17.4 million budget gap and keep the streetcar project on
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 12:13 PM | Permalink
Lease moves parking plan forward
Cincinnati is officially leasing its parking meters, lots and garages to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority. The agency announced today that it had signed a lease agreement with the city, putting an end to a four-day controversy over whether the Port would sign the lease to begin with.The Port will now move forward with establishing contracts with the four private companies it will use to operate and upgrade the city's parking assets.What remains unclear is whether the Port actually worked out the problems that supposedly delayed the lease's signing. The Cincinnati Enquirer originally reported that the Port wouldn't sign the lease until it got a financial guarantee from the city that the local government would not cut future funds to the agency. City Council had considered cutting $100,000 out of $700,000 in annual funds to the Port as part of broader cuts to outside agencies in the fiscal year 2014 budget, but the cut to the Port was ultimately eliminated.Port spokesperson Gail Paul said she doesn't know whether the issue is under review, but she pointed out the agreement isn't supposed to address future funding concerns and only sets the terms of the parking lease.In return for the lease, the city is getting a $92 million lump sum and at least $3 million in annual payments, according to city estimates. The city plans to use that money to pay down future budget deficits and fund development projects, including the I-71/MLK Interchange.Critics argue the lease gives up too much control over the city's parking assets and will ultimately hurt downtown and neighborhoods by raising parking meter rates and expanding meter operation hours.Update (1:35 p.m.): Added a comment from Port Authority spokesperson Gail Paul.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 04:06 PM | Permalink
Delay raises questions about local control
It’s been three days since City Manager Milton Dohoney
signed an agreement to lease Cincinnati’s parking meters, lots and
garages to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority, and the Port Authority
still hasn’t signed the agreement.Port Authority spokesperson Gail Paul told CityBeat she had no definitive information on when or whether the Port Authority will sign the lease, but she said she would contact CityBeat when she learned more.
The lease would produce a $92 million lump
sum for the city, followed by at least $3 million in annual payments, according to
city estimates. But it would hand over
majority control of Cincinnati’s parking assets to the Port Authority, which will operate
and upgrade the meters, lots and garages through four private companies from around the nation.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported
the Port Authority has yet to sign the lease because it first wants a
financial guarantee that the city will not threaten to cut future
funding. In May, City Council considered pulling $100,000 out of
$700,000 in annual funding from the Port Authority as part of a broader
cut to outside agencies. The threat apparently made Port Authority
officials concerned about future funding.
The city originally claimed the parking plan will keep
local control of the city’s parking assets through the Port Authority.
But the delay has raised doubts about local control, given that the Port
Authority is going against the will and assumptions of the city
When asked whether the delay on signing the lease raises
question about local control, Paul
responded, “That’s an interesting take on it.” She says the Port
Authority isn’t refusing to sign the lease, but the agency’s board is
getting “reacquainted” with the plan and has a few lingering questions.
Paul added the Port Authority understands there’s a lot of
public interest in the plan. She said the organization is paying
attention to feedback and criticisms.
City spokesperson Meg Olberding said
she’s confident the Port Authority will sign the lease. Olberding responded to questions about local control by pointing out
the Port Authority “has been at the table since the beginning.” She added, “The local control is not only through
the Port, but also through the advisory board. The board members are
citizens as well. So that local control will still be there.”
The advisory board will be made up of five members: four appointed by the Port Authority and one appointed by the city
The board would be able to make changes to various aspects
of the parking plan, including parking meter rates. Under the original
agreement, rates downtown will go up by 25 cents every three years, and
rates in neighborhoods will go up by 25 cents every six years. The
advisory board will be able to approve a hike or reduction in those
rates, but those changes would also require approval from the city
manager and Port Authority’s board.
by German Lopez
Court refuses delay on parking, interchange needs city support, final budget mixes tax cuts
The Hamilton County Court of Appeals refused to delay enforcement
of its earlier ruling on the city’s plan to lease its parking meters,
lots and garages to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority, which will
allow the city administration to sign the lease as soon as a lower court
rescinds its original injunction on the plan. Six out of nine City
Council members say they want to repeal or rework the deal, but City
Solicitor John Curp says Mayor Mark Mallory, who supports the plan, has
the power to hold any repeal attempts until Nov. 30, which means he can
effectively stop any repeal attempts until the end of his final term as
City Manager Milton Dohoney told City Council yesterday that the state government will not pay for the I-71/MLK Interchange
if the city doesn’t pick up some of the cost. Dohoney made the
statement when explaining how he would use the $92 million upfront money
from the parking plan. The interchange project has long been sought out by city and state officials to create jobs and better connect uptown businesses to the rest of the area and state.
State officials told The Cincinnati Enquirer the final budget plan may include downsized versions of the tax cut plans
in the Ohio House and Senate budget bills. The House bill
included a 7-percent across-the-board income tax cut, while the Senate bill included a 50-percent income tax deduction for business
owners worth up to $375,000 worth of income. Democrats have criticized the
across-the-board income tax cut for cutting taxes for the wealthy and the
business tax cut for giving a tax cut to passive
investors, single-person firms and partnerships that are unlikely to add
jobs. Republicans claim both tax cuts will spur the economy and create jobs.
Ohio ranked No. 46 out of the 50 states for job creation
in the past year, according to an infographic from Pew Charitable
Trusts. Both Ohio and Alaska increased their employment levels by 0.1
percent. The three states below Ohio and Alaska — Wisconsin, Maine and
Wyoming — had a drop in employment ranging from 0.2 percent to 0.5
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced 8,229 new entities filed to do business in Ohio in May, up from 7,687 the year before.StateImpact Ohio has an ongoing series about “value-added,” a state-sanctioned method of measuring teacher performance, here. The investigation has already raised questions
about whether value-added is the “great equalizer” it was originally
made out to be — or whether it largely benefits affluent school
districts.The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency awarded $5,690 to the Cincinnati Nature Center
for its teacher training program Nature in the Classroom. The grant
will help continue the program’s goals of training first through
eighth grade teachers about local natural history, how to implement a
science-based nature curriculum and how to engage students in exploring
and investigating nature.
Controversial Cincinnati attorney Stan Chesley yesterday was suspended from arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kings Island and Cedar Point were among the top 15 most visited amusement parks in the nation in 2012 — after the obvious hotspots in California and Florida.
Meet NASA’s astronaut class of 2013.
Google is launching balloon-based Internet in New Zealand.
Got questions for CityBeat about anything related to Cincinnati? Submit your questions here and we’ll try to get back to you in our first Answers Issue.
CityBeat is looking to talk to convicted drug offenders
from Ohio for an upcoming cover story. If you’d like to participate or
know anyone willing to participate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 19, 2013
The city signed an agreement on June 18
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.
by German Lopez
Mayor, City Council could make changes
The city signed an agreement Monday 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.
The city tweeted the news of the signing to several reporters today with a caveat: “Changes to hours etc. can still be made.”
The caveat comes after a majority of City Council asked
City Manager Milton Dohoney to give council more time to make changes to
the parking plan. Council approved the parking plan in March, but that
was in the middle of a tenuous budget process that has since finished
with the passing of a balanced budget.
Now, a majority of City Council is pushing to rework the
deal. Democrats Chris Seelbach, P.G. Sittenfeld, Pam Thomas and Laure
Quinlivan, Republican Charlie Winburn and Independent Chris Smitherman
support reworking or repealing the parking plan.
In particular, Seelbach and Quinlivan have suggested
reducing or eliminating the expansion of parking meter operation hours.
The original plan
expands hours to 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. downtown and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in
neighborhoods, but private operators wouldn’t have the ability to
further expand hours.
How much City Council will be able to do remains
uncertain. City Solicitor John Curp previously told City Council that a
supermajority is not enough for a repeal because Mayor Mark Mallory, who
supports the parking plan, can hold any ordinances until Nov. 30, which
marks the end of the current City Council session.
Jason Barron, Mallory’s spokesperson, told CityBeat the mayor would reject a repeal, but he’s open to changes.
“There will be financial repercussions to that,” he said,
alluding to possibly smaller payments from the Port Authority. “But
there’s a ton of flexibility in this plan.”
Still, Barron says the city won’t spend any funds until there is legal certainty, meaning until potential appeals are exhausted.
At the center of the legal battles: Whether an emergency clause allows the parking plan to avoid a referendum.
Opponents gathered more than 12,000 signatures earlier in
the year for a referendum effort, but the referendum may never come to
pass in the aftermath of recent court rulings.
The latest ruling from the Hamilton County Court of
Appeals decided the city can use emergency clauses to avert referendum
efforts on passed legislation, on top of bypassing a 30-day waiting
period on implementing laws.
In other words, since the parking plan had an emergency clause attached to it, the plan is not subject to referendum.
The appeals court later refused to delay enforcement of
its ruling, which allowed the city manager to sign the lease within
days.Opponents are attempting to appeal the ruling to the Ohio Supreme Court.
For Cincinnati, the parking plan will provide $92 million
in an upfront payment, followed by at least $3 million in estimated annual
payments that the city says will eventually grow to $7 million and
beyond.The city plans to use the lump sum to rescind budget cuts, help balance future budgets and fund economic development projects, including the I-71/MLK Interchange.Opponents of the plan argue it cedes too much control of
the city’s parking assets to private operators and could hurt neighborhoods and downtown by
expanding parking meter operation hours and increasing meter rates.Correction: The city
signed the lease Monday, not Tuesday as originally reported in the story.
The city made the announcement Tuesday, which caused confusion and