When Councilman Joe Krier took office for District 9 in November 2013, most of his constituents echoed his opposition to the City providing $32 million for the VIA streetcar project without a public vote on the matter. Therefore, on Jan. 30, 2014, Councilman Krier sent a formal letter to City Attorney Robert Greenblum (see attached), voicing his reservations about the proposed project. Councilman Krier requested answers to the following three questions:
1. What process would be required for the City to reconsider its support for the streetcar project?
2. Under what circumstances will the City Council have future opportunities or obligations to vote on this issue?
3. Can the City place a referendum on this issue on the next citywide election? How would we go about doing so?
Today, the City Attorney hand delivered his legal opinion (see attached) to Councilman Krier who is encouraged by the decision. “The good news is that the $32 million has not been spent as many people believe and the funds have not even been obligated yet. The City Council will get two opportunities to vote on whether to contribute taxpayer funds to the VIA streetcar project,” said Councilman Krier.
At some point in the future, probably in 2015, VIA is expected to ask the City to pay its $32 million contribution to the funding of the streetcar project. Before a check is ever cut, the Council will first be asked to authorize posting a notice of intent to issue the $32 million share of the expense. If approved by the Council, this notice of intent will be posted in various financial publications and is likely to gain more citizen opposition. Then, the Council will be asked to vote to authorize the issuance of $32 million in Certificates of Obligation to fund the project whose debt will ultimately be paid by the taxpayers.
“I support a vote on the streetcar project by the People,” Councilman Krier said. He plans to use the two Council voting opportunities to encourage support from his fellow council members to oppose the project until the entire issue is put to a public vote. In addition, he will work during the development of next year’s city budget to re-program the non-allocated $32 million to fund additional street maintenance and drainage improvements. “We need to properly fund good streets and drainage before we spend money on streetcars," said Councilman Krier.