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RTA proposing 2019 budget, riders call for more transparency

Posted: 5:51 PM, Nov 13, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-13 23:16:45Z

Public transit is trying to get back on track after financial and leadership problems, meanwhile, riders tell News 5 they're worried the RTA's still running off the rails.

The transit agency still needs a new CEO and now they are trying to figure out how to shore up a multi-million dollar gap in revenue without raising rates.

“We want someone to come in that's going to have a way to turn this around," said Chris Stocking, from Clevelanders for Public Transit.

With a $21 million loss of state funds from two years ago, and due to a change in state sales tax, the temporary funds given by the state to make up for the deficit could run out by 2020.

"I think the issue is trying to find where we're going to get local funding," Stocking said.

Floun'say Caver, the Interim General Manager for the RTA said in Tuesdays Budget meeting, no matter what he’s trying to make sure there are no rate hikes for riders in the coming year.

“Our hope is that on Dec. 18 that we'll approve a budget that provides space where we no service cuts and no layoffs for the 2019 budget,”

In August, riders were pushing for a tax levy to make up for the loss, the ballot issue didn't make the deadline for this midterm election and doesn't look promising for 2019 either.

“My goal as the interim CEO was provided stability, so that we could have the time to think, to understand," said Caver.

In the meeting, Caver stressed the positive that ridership is at a five percent loss, up from the nine percent loss in January earlier this year. Yet riders and some members of the board were still concerned about there being a loss in the first place. But when it comes to pulling the trigger on a tax bid, Caver dodged any direct commitment for the coming year.

“That decision will be a decision for our board of trustees to make," he said.

The financial woes and the recent scandal with former president George Dixon III, who now owes more than $1 million for this misuse of health care benefits, has riders, like Alanna Faith, demanding to have their say next go round.

“A transparent and engaged search for the new CEO," she said.

Today, the group Clevelanders for Public Transit gave the board a list of their recommendations for the new leader and are asking for open dialogue on who that person will be.

“We want to make sure we have the right person hired," said Stocking.