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Officials: Overhaul of WRTA offices will help economy



Published: Sat, March 7, 2009 @ 12:04 a.m.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN — Officials with the Western Reserve Transit Authority defend the $2.2 million they are receiving from the federal stimulus package to renovate and expand administration offices as a job-creation project.

“A sizable number of people will be employed” for the construction project, said Don Meszaros, WRTA’s director of maintenance. “It will provide people seven to eight additional months of employment. It will hopefully employ people from” the area.

The $2.2 million was among a $3.51 million allocation WRTA is to receive from the stimulus package’s transportation funding program.

The $787 billion federal stimulus package is designed to create and retain jobs.

Some people, including a number of posters on Vindy.com, have reacted negatively to Thursday’s announcement about the $2.2 million funding, questioning how the project creates or retains jobs.

James Ferraro, WRTA’s executive director, said the 24-year-old office on the lower portion of Mahoning Avenue needs improvements and to be expanded.

“People will be put to work,” he said with jobs needed for general contractors, plumbing, electric, fire and security, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning work.

WRTA submitted this project, along with others, to the governor’s office, which then forwarded all requests for funding it received to the federal government. The Obama administration made the decision to fund some projects and not others.

The WRTA administration building has needed the expansion project — putting 1,500 additional square feet on the office — for a number of years, Meszaros said.

The agency moved from a city agency to a county one because of the passage of 0.25 percent sales tax in November.

WRTA has restored evening and Saturday bus service and will increase its routes to other parts of the county shortly.

About 20 people, mostly drivers, will be hired soon, Ferraro said. The agency currently employs 68, he said.

“This will help create jobs and put more people to work,” Ferraro said.

Without the stimulus money, the expansion wouldn’t be possible, he said. It’s been in the planning stages since 2005.

“It’s about work and employment and pumping up the economy,” Ferraro said.

The project will move fast, Meszaros said.

Contractors will be named by the WRTA board on May 29.

Work will begin shortly after and take about seven to eight months to complete, Meszaros said.

During the construction, WRTA administrative employees will work out of a temporary double-wide trailer near the office, he said.

The agency also received $230,435 for maintenance costs.

That will allow WRTA to save operating expenses that would go to maintenance and use it for other purposes, Ferraro said.

The agency also will receive $1.08 million to buy 12 smaller buses — 12-passenger 24 feet long — and five minivans to expand service.

skolnick@vindy.com


Comments

1cityguy(109 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Wait a minute--didn't I read that they were asking for a couple of million from the stimulus to purchase hybrid buses? I'm pretty sure I did--so then why not use this money for that? Or are they expecting to receive more? I don't like this--we approve a levy for renewed service and they are spending this money for nicer offices?

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2city_resident(513 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

That's a good question. Apparently the government didn't approve their request for hybrid buses.

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3cityguy(109 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Actually it looks as though this project specifically met with government approval, so the fault lies with the feds not with the agency--kind of ironic given the president's constant emphasis on going green.

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4jimiohoh(86 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

They are being transparent. Now, isn't that all the administration wants no matter what it is spent on?
Who is to approve the bids on the on these contracts. SOMEONE will get fat with this one.

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5aeparish(669 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Cityguy, the president is gonna go green in the face if he doesn't quit spewing up this BS.

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6MOM509(8 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

It says in the article they will also recieve 1.08 mil to purchase 12 smaller buses & 5 vans. BUT as I said before they NEED to work on the bus station itself if we are talking construction. That is an eyesore inside.

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7metz87(884 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

How can making your office look better help the economy? Thats' a new one to me. This is pretty close to what they call pork barrel spedning and we all got screwed over for passing this levy for them!

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8city_resident(513 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

What does this have to do with the levy?

Whether you agree with this kind of use for the money or not, it will keep some construction people working when they would have probably been laid-off otherwise.

Also, these offices have needed expanding/remodel for quite a few years. And now that the WRTA is a county-wide service, the offices will probably need to expand even more for the additional personel.

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9gmann415(268 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

W.R.T.A SHOUL LOOK AT HOW OTER BUS COMPANYS OPPERATE. FOR INSTANTS, CLEVELAND OFFERS A BUS PASS FOR $4.50 THAT BUS PASS ALLOWS YOU TO RIDE ANYWHERE AT ANY TIME FOR UP TO 13HRS. THEIR BUSSES RUN THE SAME ROUTS EVERY 20MINUTES. AND NOT ONLY THAT BUT THEIR BUS SERVICE ALSO MEETS UP WITH BUSES TO OTHER AREAS SUSH AS AKRON. I THINK ALL OF THESE BUSSES SHOULD MEET UP WITH ONE ANOTHER. IT WILL HELP ALOT OF PEOPLE WHO DONT DRIVE BUT IS LOOKING FOR WORK. OH BY THE WAY CLEVELAND BUSSES RUN 24-7 NONSTOP. THAT MAY HELP THE MAHONING VALLY.

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10gmann415(268 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

LOL. YES RIDING THE CLEVELAND BUS MAY GET U SHOT BY SOMEONE WHEARING A HOODIE OR EVEN A BANDANA OVER HIS FACE OR HEAD. BUT CLEVELAND DOES HAVE A GRET BUS SERVICE. AND AT EVERY TERMINAL THERE IS AT LEAST 2 ARMED COPS AND ALSO VIDEO CAMERAS.

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11tylersclark(182 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Regardless of the need, the way this was broadcast comes across as fairly tone-deaf on the WRTA's part.

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12aeparish(669 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Gmann, number one, chill with the capital letters.

Number two, Cleveland is a much larger city. Youngstown does not need busses to run all night long. I'm sorry, but I'm paying enough sales tax for the WRTA. I'm not paying more so they can have completely empty busses ride around at all hours of the night.

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13terrancesarco(41 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I strongly suggest to all the naysayers of the wrta agency attend their monthly board meeting to express your concerns on how they are manageing the monies from the county sales tax-levy. The meeting is every fouth thursday of every month beginning at 3pm. You can request to speak and ask questions concerning your doubts that you have about this agency.

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14scrooge(563 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Adding on to the Admin offices will create jobs-for about 8 months. After the construction is complete (to the tune of $2.2 Million?) we'll be left with a couple new jobs--maybe. The 20 jobs they are talking about were going to be added because of the expanded service long before the Obama pork passage and due to the sales tax.
Reallocate the funds to upgrade the terminals and buy more efficient buses.
Let's get the RTA running a little closer to profitability before we worry about new desk chairs and wallpaper at the adiminstration building.

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15AtownParent(562 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

City_resident, you were are big proponent of that sales tax. How do you feel now knowing that they not only got their sales tax, but an additional 2.2 million and are renovating their offices. Plus, lets talk honestly here, they are going to bid those jobs and no one knows who will get the contract. It doesn't have to be a local company. If they want to save face, they should use one, but we all know they are not. They don't need new offices for the "expanded" routes. Please, they have "added" two routes. All you people who voted for this tax were stupid. You believed all the crap they spewed and now the rest of us have to pay for it. And so will everyone in the county when the next sales tax is put on the ballot and people say NO because they can't afford more. We already have one of the highest sales taxes in the STATE.

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16city_resident(513 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

"City_resident, you were are big proponent of that sales tax. How do you feel now knowing that they not only got their sales tax, but an additional 2.2 million and are renovating their offices."

I wish they would spend some of the money to fix up Federal Station downtown. I also wish they would have been granted the money to buy hybrid buses, too. But, their offices do need expanded. They have needed this expansion since 2005. Now that they are becoming a county-wide service, instead of just a city service, they need the room even more.

"Plus, lets talk honestly here, they are going to bid those jobs and no one knows who will get the contract. It doesn't have to be a local company. If they want to save face, they should use one, but we all know they are not."

The WRTA has no authority over who will bid the project. Any project over $25k (I think that's the number) has to be publicly bid. If someone from outside of the valley needs the work more, they will "sharpen their pencils" and make their bid as low as they can.

"They don't need new offices for the "expanded" routes. Please, they have "added" two routes."

We haven't seen anything from the sales tax yet. We won't see new services funded by the new sales tax until September. (per WRTA's website)

"We already have one of the highest sales taxes in the STATE"

No, we don't! I think Mahoning county's sales tax will change to 6.75% in April. But then, there will still be 44 (FOURTY FOUR!!!) counties that still have a higher sales tax rate.
http://tax.ohio.gov/divisions/tax_ana...

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17metz87(884 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Ok so it is more like half the state. look making a office bigger is one thing,doing it for perks is quite another. do they really need all new carpet,chairs and desks? Give me a break! No wonder our city is going down the drian,we have people that see no problem with wasting money!

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18debraweaver(30 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I believe that the money should be used to update the station itself. They also need to make some basic improvements that would cost little - for example making certain that bus schedules are readily available and that the change machine works. They should also invest in at least a couple of hybrid buses. I understand the shovel ready nature of the stimulus funds awarded, however, the money that they would have spent from their own budget for repairs on the administrative offices should be spent to improve the station.

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19metz87(884 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

It's jsut pork. We should eb able to get our money back as they seem to jjsut want to waste it on on office perks not busues or the station where it should by LAW be going.

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20m4birds(2 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

To the girl in Youngstown in Sunday's paper:she thinks stimulus is a one-time unexpected free gift! Wake up,honey! Who do you think pays for this? If you don't know-It's YOU & me(If you're fortunate enough to have a job)! If WRTA couldn't afford to do this construction with just the levy,too bad,Reallocate funds for routes,new buses,drivers working,shelters,etc.,not new offices! There are no free gifts!!

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21metz87(884 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

They think it was a gift. amyeb we should take it back.

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