Transit board approves placing 2 levies on November ballot
Ridership is up overall over the last two years, the board chairman says.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Western Reserve Transit Authority will have a pair of 2-mill renewal levy requests on the November ballot.
The board approved a resolution Thursday to put a 10-year renewal and a four-year renewal before voters. The two combined will raise about $2 million annually for the WRTA, executive director James J. Ferraro said. The four-year renewal levy dates from 1982.
The annual budget for the 2006 fiscal year, also approved at the meeting, is about $7.6 million. "It funds a significant portion of our budget," board chairman Michael Bosela said of the two levies.
Board members and WRTA officials say they plan an active campaign to get out votes for the levy.
"We've been successful in the past, but if you want someone to vote for you, you have to ask them," Ferraro said. "Some people say they're for the buses, but that they aren't registered to vote."
Officials point to increased ridership of WRTA buses as a sign of public support. Bosela said the number of riders last year topped 1.5 million for the first time, continuing an upward trend over the past two years. But ridership has declined some in recent months, mostly because of the decreased number of passengers when school is not in session, Ferraro said.
In other business, the board discussed political campaign ads on WRTA buses. The authority has allowed paid political advertising on the sides of buses for about 12 years, Ferraro said, and it currently works with a Pittsburgh-area company on ad placement.
"We get a pretty good response for candidates in some years, and we expect to see some shortly," Ferraro said. "The mayoral race may draw a lot of interest."
The ads are placed on a first-come, first-served basis, and all candidates are charged at the same rates, Ferraro said.