HomeCincinnati NewsThe city of Cincinnati considers parking meter increase to fund streetcar

The city of Cincinnati considers parking meter increase to fund streetcar

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Cincinnati, Ohio – In fiscal year 2025, Cincinnati is set to hire four new enforcement officers to help increase parking revenue. The city is also planning to raise the amount of money from parking meters that will be used to cover a significant shortfall in the budget for the Cincinnati Connector streetcar. Mayor Aftab Pureval and City Manager Sheryl Long have proposed redirecting $750,000 from parking revenues to the streetcar’s $6.2 million budget for the year. The fiscal year starts on July 1, and the City Council needs to approve the budget by June 30.

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“I’m really proud that we continue to break ridership numbers,” Pureval told reporters when he unveiled the budget May 24. “We are confident we will be able to sustainably support the streetcar going forward.”

Historically, the streetcar has been partially funded by parking revenues, with at least $1.5 million allocated in previous fiscal years, including FY2024. For FY2025, the contribution from parking revenue is set to increase to $2.25 million, which is about 34% of the total $6.6 million generated from parking meters. Additionally, a $900,000 annual grant from the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr. Foundation, which helped save the streetcar from being discontinued in 2013, is due to end this year, leaving a gap in funding.

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Other sources of funding for the streetcar include advertising revenue and contributions from the city’s voluntary tax incentive contribution program. This program involves developers who have received property tax breaks giving a portion of their savings back to the city to support the streetcar. The streetcar employs two city staff members and is primarily operated by Transdev, a private company that manages public transit services globally for various governments.

A spokesperson for Mayor Pureval mentioned that Cincinnati is considering additional private funding sources for the streetcar. If this does not happen, it will mark a significant shift in the city’s policy compared to the previous administration. Former Mayor John Cranley strongly opposed using general fund money for streetcar operations.

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The city has recognized that enforcement of parking meters was somewhat relaxed following the pandemic. This was an intentional move to encourage more people to visit downtown businesses. Additionally, the city aims to diversify its general fund revenue sources, which is why it is hiring new parking enforcement officers.

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Parking meter rates in Cincinnati are set dynamically, meaning they can be adjusted based on how much they are used. Over time, the city has discreetly extended the hours during which parking meters are enforced. In areas like Northside, Mount Lookout, Hyde Park, and the U-Square area of Uptown, meters are now enforced until 9 p.m. The same goes for most of downtown, except at the Banks, where meter enforcement extends until 11 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. In contrast, in Over-the-Rhine south of 14th Street, enforcement also runs until 11 p.m. on these nights, whereas in other areas, it ends at 6 p.m.

“We are way too beholden on the earnings tax” for operating the city, Pureval said. “We wanted to encourage people to come back to our urban core.”

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