Welcome to WCPO's live online chat with Roxanne Qualls. Here is our first question, which involves the city's pension fund.
I led a tri-partisan coalition of council that enacted sweeping pension reforms for current and future employees. Doing so, council solved the pension problem going forward. The unfunded liability is a problem from the past. (more)
Expert advisors to the Pension Board (CRS) have said council needs to: change the compounding Cost of Living Adjustment to a simple COLA indexed to inflation and capped, (more)
The City needs to increase its contribution to the pension from what next year will be 24% of payroll to 29% of payroll over the next 5 years. If we do these two things we can address the unfunded liability.
Thanks. Our next question is about the streetcar project.
I am committed to making sure the streetcar connects downtown Cincinnati to the university/medical area of Uptown. These are the region's two largest employment centers and have a combined residential community of over 65,000 people. (more)
When elected Mayor, I will go to Washington to request federal streetcar and rail funds for Phase 2-the connection and circulator in Uptown.
Thanks. Our next question is about Westwood.
The job of Mayor is to make sure Cincinnati is safe, clean, livable and healthy. The city has seen a decrease in violent crime and Part 1 crime over the last few years. If, however, you are a victim of crime, the statistics do not matter! (more)
I know because I once was a victim of a crime. As Mayor, I will make sure we have a new recruit class in next year's budget. I will invest technology that makes our police more effective. And, I will encourage further civilianization to get more officers on the street.
Thanks. Our next question is about Saks Fifth Avenue.
As a member of council and when I am Mayor I will continue to invest in neighborhood projects, like the theater and streetscaping in East Price Hill, the College Hill, Madisonville and Westwood business districts, Evanston and may other neighborhoods. (more)
In fact, between 2008-2012 Of the $485 million invested in downtown and our neighborhoods, 60% was in the neighborhoods. So...this is not an issue of downtown vs the neighborhoods. (more)
Your question of Saks possibly moving, however, is an important question. At this point, I would have to be presented with a very compelling analysis to support further incentives for them.
Northside is one of Cincinnati's great neighborhoods. It's revival is due to great community leadership that is united behind a shared vision, and effective public/private partnerships that have brought numerous Citirama's (more)
to Northside, the American Can building renovation, and now the new residential building on the old Myron Johnson site. As Mayor, I will continue to work with the Northside community as I have done in the past, to continue this public private partnership.
That is a question many people ask. All the studies and development experts, such as Chris Leinberger, will tell you that it is the certainty of rail that results in significant private investment due to the fact that the rails cannot move. Three streetcar systems (more)
that prove this point are Portland's, Tacoma's and Seattle's. In Seattle Amazon announced building their new HQ along the streetcar line.
whether retail, residential, or commercial must be looked at individually to see if they make sense.
As Mayor I will make sure the City aggressively pursues economic development and growth that brings jobs and revenues to the City. I will make sure we partner with the private sector to start up high tech businesses in Cincinnati. (more)
I will also work to bring other business to the city including businesses like Pure Romance. It brings jobs and provides employment.
You're tired of hearing about streetcars and parking???!!! Among the many important issues I have worked on and will lead as Mayor are: aggressive investment in neighborhood redevelopment, the construction of the I-71/MLK interchange to bring jobs and economic investment to the Uptown neighborhoods and allow the continued expansion of the hospitals in the area(more)
and making sure as we continue to invest in development that our entire community can participate in the jobs and benefits of ot
Absolutely!!!! In fact, We have learned it takes a strategy, the tools and the resources to be effective. Many of our neighborhoods either have effective strategies in place or are developing them (places like Westwood, Madisonville, College Hill, Evanston, Avondale East Price Hill...the list goes on.) (more)
I have led the effort to give them the tools they need to make sure their strategies capitalize on what is the strong demand for urban living-mixed use walkable neighborhoods that are safe and clean. These tools include alternatives to conventional zoning and new street standards that focus on people and not cars. (more)
Finally, council has established the Focus 52 fund that uses casino dollars to bond private neighborhood-based development. This is a first. We also are seeing new partnerships emerge because of the strong leadership of the Port Authority that are assisting our neighborhoods to have the expertise to put in place transformative projects.
Do you have examples you are referencing? Maintenance is always important, but investing in job growth, business and residential development that generate new revenues also is important. It's a balance.
We will come back to that question if examples are provided.
Phase 2 will start with a study to determine cost and routing to make sure it optimizes the residential, retail, and commercial development in the Uptown neighborhoods and for the medical-university area of Uptown. Once we have the cost estimates, (more)
the benefit analysis, and the expected increase in property values and revenues from the investment I will work with the institutions of Uptown, the federal government to develop a realistic funding plan.
There are plans already underway for the conversion of Tower Place. The street level on Fourth and on Race will be retail or, maybe residential. The interior will be converted to parking to support further residential development.
Great point and great question... I have led the effort to give our neighborhoods new tools that support the preservation of neighborhood character and that reinforce walkable, mixed use neighborhoods. These tools, known as form based codes, are voluntarily adopted by neighborhoods...and we are just beginning to see their adoption. They will help. (more)
As for the specific instance you cite, city staff worked very hard all the way back in 2008 to encourage a more urban. less suburban design. The efforts were not successful.
As most of us have learned, it is through the power of partnerships that we are able to achieve our objectives. The organizations and initiatives you mention are doing great work because they bring people together to solve a common problem, or provide a needed service. (more)
Right now we have another great example of a partnership emerging that many people did not expect. The partnership between the Port Authority and many of our neighborhoods. The Port Authority is working hand-in-hand with them to address blight, vacant parcel site assembly, and providing assistance in understanding how to put financial packages together to invest in transformative development.
This will be our last question today as we're about out of time. Our apologies to the questions we did not get to today. Perhaps Vice Mayor Qualls will consent to a future chat soon.
I bring a vision of a growing Cincinnati that has a vital city center surrounded by thriving neighborhoods (more)
A place where our children want to stay and their friends want to come because it has a strong economy, great neighborhoods, excellent schools, an inclusive community, and responsible leadership.
Thank you all for participating. Thank you Kevin and WCPO.
Thanks to Vice Mayor Qualls for participating today, as well as to all of our online chatters. This concludes WCPO's online chat.