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WRTA board seeks renewal of sales-tax



Published: Fri, July 27, 2012 @ 12:03 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern

aluthern@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The Western Reserve Transit Authority Board of Trustees approved placing a 0.25-percent sales tax renewal before Mahoning County voters this fall.

The board took action at its Thursday meeting. WRTA is funded primarily by a 0.25-percent sales tax, which first was approved by voters in November 2008. The upcoming renewal is another five-year measure.

Without the renewal, all services will be cut, and WRTA will cease to operate, said Jim Ferraro, WRTA executive director.

WRTA sales-tax revenue has continued to grow since 2009, the depths of the recession. In that year, the transit authority collected about $4.2 million in sales tax. In 2010 and 2011, the amount grew to about $6.9 million and $7.5 million, respectively.

The sales-tax revenue looks like it will continue to grow in 2012 as collections in each of the first five months of this year, $3.2 million so far, have surpassed those in 2011. The transit authority’s 2012 budget is about $10.7 million, said Marianne Vaughn, WRTA director of finance.

The sales tax “covers general operating expenses and any local share of capital projects, which includes buses and equipment,” she said. The local share of grants is usually about 20 percent of that total cost, Vaughn added.

WRTA has grown since the switch to sales tax, Ferraro said.

“Everybody knows that at one point, we lived on city property tax, and it was difficult,” he said.

In 2007, before the sales-tax vote, WRTA had suspended Saturday bus service, eliminated evening bus runs and canceled some trips on daily routes, according to Vindicator files.

Now, WRTA provides daily public-transportation services to more than 4,000 seniors, people with disabilities and workers throughout the county, Ferraro said.

The transit authority employs about 100 people, 25 of whom are drivers hired after passage of the sales tax, he added.

WRTA board president John P. Brown III said the transit authority’s impact is far-reaching.

“It’s vital to the economy of the Mahoning Valley, taking people to and from jobs and doctor’s appointments and improving overall quality of life,” he said.


Comments

1NoBS(1960 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

County residents - here's your chance. Do you want to keep on throwing your money away on buses that benefit the city far more than the rest of the county?

VOTE NO!!!

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

TheThinker, some interesting ideas. (I don't necessarily agree with all of them, but still interesting)

Of the 7 board members, I believe the mayor of Youngstown apponts 3. If the agency were made part of the county government, allowing the sharing of its sales tax revenue, I think having at least 3 members of the board appointed by the city would be fair.

As far as the door to door service, are you suggesting WRTA contract with a private cab company? I'm not sure of the legalities of that. The other alternative to providing service to the whole county would be to have fixed routes. (that really would be used rarely) The door to door vans are the most inefficient form of transportation, but they are still better than running a fixed route out there, everyday.

If you're going to make year to year comparisons, you should ignore years 2009 abd 2010. 2009 was the transition year when the sales tax started, and 2010 had new experimental/unseccessful routes, that were later eliminated. So, I believe the numbers for those years are skewed.

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3PagansRock(6 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

I ride the WRTA buses as my only form of transportation, I'm a single father of two under the age of 5, do not drive, and can't afford to. And I'm voting 'No'. WRTA has wasted a lot of money. I live on the East side and on Saturday can only catch a bus every other hour, they never brought back the Hillman street bus, and only brought back the Warren Express after everyone that used it to get to work moved to Warren or quit their jobs. Yet there are two Boardman Canfield loop buses that run every hour that only get 1 to 5 passengers a day. The county does benefit from WRTA with passengers spending their money at stores in Boardman, Liberty, ect.. But they wasted the money last time why would I trust them again. Trick me once shame on you, trick me twice shame on me.

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4howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

We the citizens of Mahoning Valley would likely be better served by a regional transit system (multi-county) that had a board that is completely elected by the citizens of the counties involved, this has proven to be the most efficient way to run a public transportation system in the US. A perfect example of such a system is Tri-Max in the Portland Oregon MSA. Besides reducing the percentage of administrative staff to operating staff it also allows for much better planning of routes between residential centers and employment centers and for larger projects such as converting to hybrid powered buses or electric light rail.

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5howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

In my previous post I referred to Tri-Max the correct name is Tri-Met here is their website http://trimet.org/ Max is the name of their light rail system which is part of Tri-Met.

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

I agree, Howard. It's rediculous that a metropolitan statistical area with a population of 673k people has a public transit service that only serves 1/3 of that population. (but it would be even more rediculous for a population that size to not have a public transportation system at all)

PagansRock, if you can't afford to drive, how will you get around without WRTA?

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7fess2it(30 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

I have used WRTA to attend YSU during my undergrad and now use the bus to attend while earning my masters degree.Masters classes are offered at night time, so if I miss my nightline bus by two minutes I have to wait 1.5 hours for my next bus.
Our bus station is the first thing people see as they get off the Greyhound and I surely do not think the restrooms leave a lasting impression for anyone visiting from another area. The money used to revamp the offices could have been put to better use in the bus station restrooms, but administration does not have to use these facilities so why would they care?!

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8PagansRock(6 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

city_resident
I can walk and my kids as can as well. I wouldn't be able to get to any Walmart but can order what I need from them online and have it shipped to my house.
fess2it is correct about the restrooms. They are beyond disgusting! I will walk my kids all the way to the Phar-more building to use the restroom knowing the possibility of them having an accident rather than risking them catching something from the WRTA restroom.

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9city_resident(513 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Per Resolution 2012-19, the restrooms will be taken care of soon. http://www.wrtaonline.com/communicati...

By the way, the administration office expansion was an ARRA project.

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10redeye1(4561 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

All I know is, That I for one will be voting NO for any renewal tax sought by the WRTA period!

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11southsidedave(4784 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree that full audit should be conducted to determine where current funding is being spent, and possibly misused.

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12palmer16121(116 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

I belive the WRTA would be better served if they did something similar to Portland, oregon as well. That is, A few years ago. I also belive that the WRTA should be in talks for intercounty/interstate co-operation. That is, They should talk with the powers that run the Trumbull County Transit, and the Mercer County Council of Governments to see if at least a share agreement is possible.

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13grg019(34 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

TO ALL NEGATIVE COMMENTERS WHO WANT TO VOTE NO..GET OUT OF YOUR CARS, AND QUIT BEING SO CHICKEN HEARTED TO RIDE AND THIS WILL SOLVE THE ONE OR TWO PASSENGERS YOU SEE RIDING! You can't compare youngstown with other cities on transpotation because places like Detroit, or chicago are more populated cities. Some of you complain about the money and how its used but are too afraid to come to a meeting! Stop your whining, and ride to see what its like. There are folks who actually NEED the service. Stop crying about their raises and get a CDL and drive! Some of you might have you math down and know how to figure cost of ridership but so what, it all boils down to riding and havind a place to go. If more of you rode, then perhaps you'll get more service!

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