Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Motion directs restored SORTA funding; New leaders announced

Cincinnati City Council has adopted a motion to restore $1 million in funding for the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) that was removed during December's 2011-2012 biennial budget process.

The restored funding would come from excess transit fund revenues, which exceeded 2010 projections by $1.3 million.

In January, the SORTA board penned a strongly-worded letter to Mayor Mark Mallory and members of City Council saying that the City's decision to divert dedicated transit funding to cover costs of street lights was "a direct violation" of a 38-year funding contract between the two parties.

City funding represents nearly one-half of the board's operating budget, approximately $85.5 million this year.

SORTA board chair Sean Rugless hinted that any reduction could result in cuts to Metro and Access bus service, increased fares, or layoffs.

An ordinance approving the restoration of SORTA funding is on tomorrow's full council agenda.

Councilmembers Chris Bortz, Jeff Berding, and Amy Murray voted against the motion.

Board leaders announced

The SORTA board has announced its elected chair and vice chair for 2011.

Rugless, who has been on the SORTA board for more than two years and has served as its chair since October has been re-elected as chair for 2011. A resident of Forest Park, he is president and CEO of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Margaret C. Gutsell, a member of the board since 2007, has been elected as vice chair. A College Hill resident, she is the principal and owner of Inclusive Quality, a training, consultation and technical assistance company helping individuals and organizations adopt inclusive policies and practices.

Photo of Sean Rugless courtesy of SORTA.

Previous reading on BC:
SORTA rejects recommendations on new driver contract (2/3/11)
SORTA says City funding decision violates contract, sets 'dangerous precedent' (1/10/11)
Metro wins $1.9M for hybrid buses (6/10/10)
Metro honored for safety, plans new communications system (6/8/10)
Tell your Metro story, win free bus rides for a year (6/1/10)