Cincinnati ― Council Approves Remaining Funding
The news.cincinnati.com site reports that on June 23 the Cincinnati City Council voted by a narrow 5 to 4 margin to add $17.4 million to the city budget to cover the shortfall in streetcar funding.
The funding was needed as all estimates submitted to build the system had exceeded the budgeted $44 million by a considerable margin. Messer Construction's $71 million was the low bid, but was $17 million higher than available funding.
Since the bids were received, considerable uncertainty swirled around the project, leading to the very real prospect that it would be cancelled despite the fact that contracts for the streetcars had been signed and considerable other expenses had been incurred.
The $71 million bid has since expired, but city officials can now negotiate for a favorable price. The additional funding likely will also result in an additional $5 million in Federal fudning that was awarded pending the city approval of the $17.4 million addition. The $5 million would provide some contingency funds and could pay for items earlier cut from the system to reduce its price.
Before approving the additional funding the Council considered all aspects of the system's potential benefits. Supporters emphasize the estimated three-to-one return on investment that would result from private investment along the route. Critics expressed concern that the estimated $3.5 million annual operating costs could be difficult to accommodate in future budgets and that construction costs may rise further.