RTA Board to Vote on Transit Levy Tomorrow, Though Adoption Looks Unlikely

click to enlarge ATU President William Nix speaks at CPT rally, (7/23/2018). - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
ATU President William Nix speaks at CPT rally, (7/23/2018).
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees will meet Tuesday morning to discuss a proposed tax levy to fund the ailing RTA. The board voted to draft the levy language at its meeting last week after pressure from the rider-and-activist coalition Clevelanders for Public Transit, including more than 700 signed letters of support.

Sources have told Scene that they suspect the board will not vote to adopt the levy language, at least not for the 2018 election. The general feeling is that the timeline is too compressed. Newly elected board chairman Dennis Clough has said he believes a levy may be advisable, but 2018 is probably unrealistic.

The Plain Dealer's transit reporter Grant Segall, in a story published this morning, said that some board members and levy opponents worry about opposition planned by Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers political advocacy group.

But there will be quieter opposition closer to home. Joe Roman, president of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the local chamber of commerce, said that he'd be unable to rally the business community around a transit levy on such short notice.

The filing deadline for the levy is August 8, and early voting for the Nov. 6 election begins on Oct. 10. That's not sufficient time, said Roman, to "tell the story" of the RTA's funding woes and the need for a levy to prevent further fare hikes and service cuts.

The reality is that local leaders and the business community would simply rather not rally around this issue. As one local leader summed up the situation to Scene recently: "They drive; why would they care?" 

click to enlarge Clevelanders for Public Transit rally (7/23/2018). - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
Clevelanders for Public Transit rally (7/23/2018).
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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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