WARREN Council rejects transportation idea
The mayor is not pleased with council's decision.
By AMANDA C. DAVIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- This city will not jump on the countywide transportation bandwagon.
Council voted 6-4 Wednesday against kicking in money to start a 24-hour, door-to-door service with other Trumbull County communities.
Voting in favor were John Homlitas, D-3rd; Dan Polivka, D-at-large; Ron White, D-4th; and Helen Rucker, D-6th.
"No" votes were cast by Virginia Bufano, D-1st; Alford Novak, D-2nd; Bob Marchese, D-at-large; Brendan Keating, D-5th; Sherry Cox-Calloway, D-at-large; and Susan Hartman, D-7th.
After the meeting, Novak said he thinks the system could turn out to be a "money pit" for the city and that it would be a duplication of other services.
Reaction from mayors: Mayor Hank Angelo was totally surprised that council decided not to support the measure.
"This is a blow to the city of Warren and especially its senior citizens," he said, noting there is "a dire need" for this kind of transportation.
Niles Mayor Ralph Infante Jr., who is spearheading the planning, voiced his disappointment this morning, but he said the plan will go forward and Warren can always join later.
"I thought we had them convinced" about the system, he said.
Contributions for start-up costs are being based on population -- $1 per person for participating communities.
Warren was asked to chip in no less than $46,832, which would have come from the city's strapped general fund.
Angelo said council's action shows him that members don't understand the budget process.
He noted that some members said the purchase of items such as police vests should be a priority, but the city has a $60,000 grant for those and its cost is only $13,000.
Obligatory contribution: The mayor also said the city would not have been obligated to contribute anything but start-up costs.
"The money would have come from next year's budget," Angelo said. "Council controls the purse strings. Maybe they don't trust themselves to make decisions about spending."
Offerings from other communities include $20,932 from Niles; $120,000 from Trumbull County Commissioners; $4,000 from Vienna Township; and up to $13,500 from Liberty Township.
Other communities, including Howland and Weathersfield, have indicated that they'll chip in.
Local tax dollars will be used to obtain state and federal tax dollars.
Proposed fares are $3 each way within a given community; $6 each way from one community to another; and $9 round-trip from a local community, out of the county.
Some Warren council members said the fares are too high, but they have been told they may be reduced once the program is up and running.
Of the federal transit money available for Mahoning and Trumbull counties, about $2.56 million this year goes to Western Reserve Transit Authority, which operates on a limited basis in Trumbull County.
Infante has said he hopes to get a portion of those funds for Trumbull's own system.
Concerns: Warren officials had expressed concern in recent weeks that chipping in would result in a duplication of services because the city has been committing federal Community Development Block Grants to area agencies.
Council held off voting Wednesday for legislation to approve recipients of 2002 CDBG money.
Programs chosen by a citizens' committee to receive money next year include SCOPE Senior Center, which serves riders who are elderly or disabled, and Community Action Transportation System, which serves low- to moderate-income riders and is run by Trumbull Community Action Program.
Angelo said neither program is considered viable transportation because they offer limited service.
Howland Township Administrator John Emanuel said there's a need for the service.
"It's too bad about Warren's decision, but I can't speak for them," he said.