Cook County threatens to cut CTA funding by 66%

Citing financial woes, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle is threatening to cut county funding of the Chicago Transit Authority by about two-thirds, from $2 million a year to $675,000, according to a Sun-Times report.

Preckwinkle suggested that the city of Chicago should increase its funding commitment. But methinks she's barking up the wrong tree:

"I think there’s a possibility for the city to up its commitment,” Preckwinkle, a former Chicago alderman, told the Sun-Times on Friday. “When I was a member of the City Council, I consistently argued that the city needed to contribute more to CTA on an annual basis — and city riders are the principal users of CTA.”

The city of Chicago contributes $3 million per year to the CTA. But the CTA also notes that the city provides at least $25 million in other services to the CTA, such as police and fire coverage.

The CTA board is set to approve its proposed 2012 budget a a special meeting Tuesday. So it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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  • Looking at the big picture, this is a typical Illinois statutory job that makes little sense.

    According to Section 4.10 of the RTA Act, two units of local government have to pay $5 million to the CTA before the RTA is allowed to disburse to the CTA, which is the origin of $2 million "statutory contribution" by the county.

    However, I noted elsewhere:

    {I]t doesn't make much difference, as the City, County and CTA are all broke, and seem to be commingling money and functions.

    I think I said similar here with regard to those who said "the city hasn't increased its contribution in 25 years."

    As far as the taxpayers of Cook County are concerned, the County Board takes it out of its sales tax levy, or the RTA takes it out of its. We pay nonetheless.

    The more interesting thing would be if neither the city or county ponied up, and the RTA would then be forced to withhold its allotment. I would enjoy that kind of manufactured crisis, since the General Assembly is totally unwilling to reform transit here.

  • These politicians are so disconnected from reality, it's unreal. I wish we could get all these politicians that campaign against CTA all publicly recognized, then have the CTA take 1 week off, doesn't matter which week, any random week of the year. The following week, I guarantee everybody in the Chicagoland area, both CTA rider and never rider will demand that all these politicians be removed from office that day.

  • SO tired of our inept government that has allowed our transportation infrastructure to become an utter embarrassment to the world under their watch. And they think playing funding shell games is going to work? Get real. The last RTA tax increase was a very short term band-aid in lieu of real funding reform. There needs to be a dedicated non-regressive funding stream for both operations and capital needs.

    I'm pretty sure I'll get it for saying this, but I actually think that a complete shutdown of CTA, Metra and Pace for at least 3 consecutive weekdays due to some major funding debacle would once and for all bring to light just how dependent this region is on public transit and perhaps the screaming from transit riders and non-transit riders alike will finally get the general assembly's attention that our broken transit funding can no longer be put on the back burner. Every time the Tribune publishes an article about any transit topic it is sickening how many anti-transit commenters there are complaining how riders should pay 100% of the cost of the ride. Ok fine then...give me a handsome tax-rebate for all the roads and highways I never use not to mention the cost of police traffic patrols, accident clean-up, etc. and I'll be fine paying a lot more for riding transit. I'd love to make their auto commutes a living hell for a few days in a transit-less region and then ask them how necessary they think it is!

  • In reply to Matt:

    First, you pay back those who paid gasoline taxes for maintaining the transit system. Again, see Publius for my take on how the Republicans react to these kind of complaints that the gas tax isn't sufficient for both highways and transit.

    The other issue is the waste from having 4 inept transit boards. Even with the need to placate the preachers in Zone B, Metra was able to pass a 25%-33% fare increase, and Pace claims that it can live within its budget. It is only the CTA that continually claims a deficit, with $83 million of it being caused by next year not getting the money from the Quinn fare freeze fraud--not the unions. So, if there is any shutdown, it'll will probably be the CTA only, and then Claypool will again drag out the 82% of the rides horsehockey.

    Kevin, you said you went to the public hearings, but only to report on them. So, to expand on my prior question, how many riders testified that they were willing to pay higher fares, compared to how many employees were reported on the TV complaining about their pensions?

    Matt, as a prior survey by some now defunct "transit advocate organization" demonstrated a couple of years ago, CTA riders did not believe that the ride was worth the base fare, then. If they don't value it, why should we subsidize you further? Instead of assuming that the region will shut down (Pace certainly won't have any effect on that), maybe you'll just have to take a cab. The cab and the bus both use the street, which you don't want to subsidize, either.

  • Actually, I think the County President is completely connected with reality. She is the first President we have had who is smarter than the schmucks who thought Stroger (either of them) were serving the public. She knows we are all financially broke but nobody is morally honest with themselves or the constituents to say it. IF the gamble pays off, and it will only pay off if the City holds back funding (causing the CTA to delay its budget) and instead use some sort of contingency, then reform could occur without costing anyone still in office too much capital. Those not in office (or really dead) rightly deserve no praise. The system of funding is broken, it needs to be fixed.

  • The Sun-Times just reported that Preckwinkle backed down, but pretty much summarizes all the b.s. behind this "dispute," including what I noted in the first post.

    But, Matt you should be doing cartwheels that, as Preckwinkle put it, suburbanites are giving up road funds for your precious CTA. And she's from the city.

  • In reply to jack:

    Don't know what happened to the link, so I won't embed it: http://www.suntimes.com/8849172-417/preckwinkle-backs-down-from-plan-to-slash-2-million-payment-to-cta.html
    .

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