RTA factions squabble over $185 million in funding; no one wins

Old-time foes faced off on the Regional Transportation Authority board Friday in a dispute of almost $185 million in discretionary funding. It was the Chicago directors vs. their suburban counterparts, and it ended with no resolution.

The issue really came down to who should get $6 million. The CTA said it deserved to get 99 percent of the $185 million, while RTA staff had recommended it get 95 percent. Last year the CTA got just over 98 percent of the discretionary funds.

Former CTA Board Chair Carole Brown, a Chicago rep on the RTA, led the revolt and refused to agree to lower funding level. Since these budget decisions require a supermajority of votes, the voted failed 8-6. Two board members were absent.

The ultimate result is that the RTA failed to approve its overall budget goals before Friday’s state deadline.

The RTA on Friday also announced a plan to fund $2.5 billion in capital transit projects. As a Crain’s report explains it: “Under the proposal, the RTA would take one-third of the anticipated growth in its sales taxes over the next five years to pay for $2.5 billion in bonds — $500 million a year for each of five years.” Because of the above dispute, there was no vote on this plan.

The bond revenue would be divided in roughly the same way the RTA divides is operating subsidy, with the CTA getting 56 percent, Metra 32 percent, and Pace 12 percent. About $291 million would be used to fund rebuilding of CTA tracks, including the south Red line, and $100 million to replace up to six CTA train stations, says Crain’s.



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  • http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-08-12/news/ct-met-abolish-rta-20120812_1_rta-chairman-john-gates-metra-and-pace-civic-group

    Remember back in August when George Ranney of Metropolitan Strategies said the RTA (and it's Service Boards CTA, Metra, and Pace) should be dissolved and re-organized?

    Well here we have a perfect example of how they are A L L much too Damn C H I L D I S H to be in control of Billions of Transit dollars, and providing competent and appropriate Transit services to the NE Illinois region ("He got a bigger piece of pie, boo-fracking hoo").

  • Mike, we're close to agreement on this one.

    The impression I got from the Crain's article is that Rahm also sent in his two newest appointees to cause a stalemate. Now, if he is trying to do what Ranney suggested by fomenting a crisis, he may have his crisis, but he doesn't have the votes to overcome the other directors, and certainly not to get 12 votes.

    In the meantime, another transit agency flouts another legal requirement.

    Kevin, you left out that the RTA doesn't have the authority to issue the bonds without state legislation, so the lack of the vote doesn't mean anything.

    While the system was left in a state of disrepair. let's remember that CTA has also said that it has allocated something like $1.5 billion on projects "to be financed with sales tax bonds." Piling layers and layers of debt between the agencies doesn't seem like a prudent course. Assuming stuff on future sales tax growth seems to indicate that neither the RTA nor the CTA is interested in restoring cut service.

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    Wow, so much money being thrown around on these projects. It's pretty crazy, it seems like no one is proposing any real value added to the city with these costs. I mean, what are we really getting here?


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