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 track.
The increased funding, previously proposed by City Manager Milton Dohoney, will come from more issued debt and pulled funding from various capital projects, including infrastructure improvements around the Horseshoe Casino. Under state law, none of the capital funding could be used for operating budget expenses, including police and fire departments.
The accountability measures require the city manager to report to City Council on the streetcar’s progress 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 abstained from voting on the accountability measures.
Qualls, who revealed the accountability measures in a press conference prior to the Budget and Finance Committee meeting, said the measures will move the streetcar forward and help keep the public informed.
Smitherman and Sittenfeld criticized their colleagues for not bringing the accountability measures to a vote earlier in the process.
The funding ordinance and accountability motion must now be approved by a full session of City Council, which has the same voting make-up as the Budget and Finance Committee. If approved, the federal government has committed another $5 million to the streetcar that will help restore certain aspects of the project previously cut because of budget concerns.