Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Businesses could pay for fixes


Newport would provide some funds for Monmouth St. upgrade

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — A look at the city's proposed budget during a special city commission meeting Tuesday quickly turned to a discussion of how Newport will complete the Monmouth Street project and upgrade the downtown business district.

        City manager Phil Ciafardini, in his overview of the recommended $16.4 million budget, acknowledged that one of the city's priorities is the Monmouth Street project, which includes new sidewalks and curbs and removal of all overhead power lines and poles.

        The cost of the project is estimated at $3,773,425. The city has about $1 million in grant money available for the streetscape, and Mr. Ciafardini is recommending that the remainder of the cost be paid by Monmouth Street property owners based on building frontage.

        “We would borrow the entire amount, in the manner chosen by the commission, and then assess the costs to the property owners over a 20-year period,” he said.

        Commissioner Jerry Peluso, who owns a Monmouth Street grocery, said he was concerned that the assessment would prove a hardship for some of the business/property owners.

        Mayor Tom Guidugli said there was no doubt that the city wants to rebuild Monmouth Street and make it more attractive to new business and the public. But he also had some problems with the proposed assessments.

        “The cost (to property owners) could present a problem in attracting new business,” he said. “People may look at the additional cost and then look somewhere else.”

        Mr. Ciafardini said the idea of the make-over on Monmouth Street was to attract more people and help the businesses, but he added that “there's no guarantee as to when that help will be realized.”

        In conjunction with the streetscape project, Mr. Ciafardini said the city has received bids for a study of converting Monmouth Street to two-way traffic. The thoroughfare, part of U.S. 27, now runs one-way north.

        Commissioner Ken Rechtin said he thinks the two-way configuration decision must be made as a part of the overall streetscape project. He said he did not favor the Monmouth Street improvements unless the city made the street two-way for traffic.

        Mr. Ciafardini said the city hoped to have the two-way traffic study in hand for consideration in a couple of months if commissioners approve funding the study.

        He also presented the commissioners with a five-year budget plan that will serve as a basis for developing a five-year strategic plan for the city.

        Mr. Ciafardini said the Newport on the Levee entertainment center, which will open next year, “is going to be the big driver for the next five years. We conservatively estimate that it will mean about $8 million to the city over five years.”

        He pointed out that the five-year plan did not include a water budget. He said the city's Water Advisory Board has recommended a water rate increase of 20 percent on Jan. 1, 2001, and another 10 percent increase by 2005.

       



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