Effect of 2006 voter approval
Extra tax money fuels COTA
Upgrades, expansion stand out as other transit systems cut
Monday, February 23, 2009 3:13 AM
By Debbie Gebolys
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
While the city and state plan painful budget cuts, COTA is expanding.
The Central Ohio Transit Authority is adding routes, buying buses, fixing up garages, planning to move its administrative offices Downtown and talking about light rail again.
“We have the money to expand service,” said COTA President Bill Lhota.
Joe Calabrese, general manager of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, said COTA is ” in an enviable spot compared to everyone else around the country.”
…Many other transit systems are struggling. For example, Youngstown cut half its service, Akron cut one-third and Dayton cut by 17 percent. Transit systems in Washington, New York and Chicago are heavily in debt.
Cleveland’s sales-tax revenue has been flat for seven years, a fate that just now is affecting COTA.
In the most recent state taxation reports, spending in November 2008 was less than in November 2007 in COTA’s service area. Less money spent means less tax money.
“It’s the first significant drop in sales tax that we’ve seen,” Lhota said. “We don’t know if it’s a trend.”
After 10 months of the double portion of sales-tax payments, officials pared back their estimates for 2009.
“They’re going to be able to expand less rapidly than they hoped,” Cleveland’s Calabrese said. “But at least they’re expanding.”
To summarize, thank you Columbus.