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RTA Board under tough deadline as they decide if a levy will be on the ballot

Posted: 8:42 AM, Jul 31, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-31 08:56:50-04

Who should pay: riders or taxpayers? That's the decision the Greater Cleveland RTA Board has to figure out at a special committee meeting at 9 am. on Tuesday.

This meeting wasn't originally on the books, but after the board met last week, they unanimously voted to discuss a possible levy, which riders have been pushing for since 2016. They're holding a committee assembly today and there's no doubt there's a lot at stake.

“We don't want to do it so right that we end up doing it wrong and we fail. We got one bite at this apple," said Valarie J. McCall, Chief of Government & International Affairs for the City of Cleveland and one of the board members for the RTA.

She and others spoke of a fear of failure at the last meeting, concerned about having just one shot with voters at this levy.

“It's almost like a school levy, said Vice President of the board Rev. Charles P. Lucas. “So we got to have a program that's going to be synced and also encouraging enough for them to want to vote for the levy."

The levy would compensate for the $21 million loss of state funds from two years ago.

“They should have been looking for options from several years ago," said Loh, a Cleveland resident who relies on public transportation for a living.

At the last board meeting, a nearly $3 million levy in sales and property taxes was proposed, then the board decided they needed to talk about it further at a later date.

"I think we're totally open for what amount," said Rev. Lucas.

Now some riders like Chris Stocking, Chair for the Clevelanders for Public Transit, are a little skeptical it won't actually happen, given there hasn't been a public transit levy in more than 40 years.

“We’re very concerned, but all we can do is continue to keep organizing and keep building the movement," he said.

The RTA Board is working under a tough deadline if they want to get a levy on the November ballot, they must submit it to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections by Aug. 6.

Riders say this midterm election is ideal and will be at the meeting this morning to let their voice be heard once again.