RTA board decides against placing tax levy on November ballot

CLEVELAND – The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority decided against placing a tax levy on the November ballot at its special board meeting Tuesday morning.

In a statement, Board President Dennis Clough said that although 2018 is not the right time to bring the tax levy to voters, 2019 will most likely see one on the ballot.

Clough recapped the meeting by saying that all in attendance agreed that more people need to be made aware of the importance of public transit to the area as well as to riders. He also stated that “much more work needs to be done to identify the possible sources of funding that will allow us to define and to deliver what the community wants and needs,” and that it is critical that there is “significant public input into this process.”

The group Clevelanders for Public Transit, which advocated for the levy, released a statement on the decision:

Clevelanders for Public Transit is disappointed that the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees did not vote to go to the ballot for transit funding today. Due to a declining sales tax base and loss of Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MCO) sales tax revenue, RTA must find new revenue or reduce expenses by 2020.

This comes after a series of questionable expenditures at RTA that started with an I-Team investigation back in March.

The I-Team revealed that RTA’s own auditors questioned $1.8 million in prescription payments – including paying over $1.5 million for 103 containers of Flonase, the nasal spray, for an average cost of over $14,000 apiece.

RTA said it was the victim of a nationwide insurance scam.

Two months later, RTA’s Board announced that its longtime Board Chairman, George Dixon, got over $1 million dollars in health benefits that he wasn’t entitled to receive.

The I-Team also revealed that confidential documents showed a transit with RTA’s para-transit system was more widespread than previously reported.

RTA said, in total, employees gave family and friends over 2,200 unauthorized rides over a twelve-year period, valued at over $120,000.

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