City Council’s budget committee voted 6-3 Sept. 24 to use $29 million from other projects in part to move utility lines and pipes to accommodate for streetcar tracks. The plan will use $15 million from the Blue Ash airport deal and $14 million from a new refinancing plan to ensure the streetcar’s opening is not delayed further from the current 2015 deadline.
The city claims it will eventually get the $15 million from the airport deal, which was originally promised for neighborhood projects, back. It’s currently disputing with Duke Energy over who has to pay to move utility lines and pipes. If the city wins out, Duke will reimburse the costs. If Duke wins out, the money will be lost in the streetcar project.
At the public meeting that preceded the vote Monday, neighborhood officials and streetcar supporters clashed. Project opponents claimed the money should stay in neighborhood projects as originally promised, while streetcar supporters touted its benefits and insisted the money will eventually come back.
Chris Smitherman, Independent; Charlie Winburn, Republican; and P.G. Sittenfeld, Democrat, voted against the deal. Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Yvette Simpson, Cecil Thomas, Wendell Young and Chris Seelbach — all Democrats — approved the deal.
Jason Barron, spokesperson for Mayor Mark Mallory, said the mayor is in favor of the plan moving forward.
The official City Council vote will take place Wednesday.