CLEVELAND -- Today, the Board of Trustees of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) approved the 2017 operating budget. The budget continues current service levels and includes:
- The roll-out of a new countywide van pool program, call VanShare.
- A pilot service connecting Edgewater Park to the region by way of RTA’s Cleveland State Line. Effective with the March 12 service change, all Saturday trips by the Cleveland State Line will stop within walking distance of Edgewater Park. Details will be announced.
The budget includes total expenditures of $302.9 million and estimated revenues of $289.5 million, with the $13.4 million gap made up with funds carried over from 2016. Through aggressive budget execution, 2016 is ending approximately $15 million to the good of the budget.
"Effective budget execution, solid management, a commitment from our employees, and a desire to seek out and implement process improvements has allowed RTA to maintain its financial position in recent years. We expect that success to continue into 2017," said RTA CEO and General Manager Joe Calabrese.
The budget also includes a slight reduction in the number of budget positions, by attrition, from 2,362 to 2,332.
A major unresolved issue will make 2017 “extremely challenging,” said Calabrese.
It is not yet known how the State of Ohio will address the removal of Medicaid managed health-care providers from the Sales & Use Tax base to meet new Federal guidelines. This issue will have a much broader negative impact than just RTA and will significantly impact revenues to the State of Ohio, each of the 88 counties in the State, and many transit systems that receive a portion of their funding from either a portion of the sales tax or directly from County allocated funds.
If no action is taken, the change will occur on July 1, 2017. It will reduce RTA’s sales tax revenues by an estimated $4.5 million in 2017, and $18 million-$20 million annually in 2018 and beyond.
Personnel costs are expected to rise $7.9 million. The increase comes from a projected 2.4 percent increase in fringe benefits, and a 2.75 percent wage increase for ATU and FOP employees based on current contractual obligations. No salary increases are included for salaried non-bargaining positions or for union employees beyond the current contracts.
“In 2017, RTA will continue to strive to increase its productivity and efficiency,” said Calabrese. “Implementation of a predicative maintenance program has made dramatic improvements in the reliability of our bus fleet. TransitStat, our data-driven performance management initiative, will continue its focus on improving RTA’s processes and reducing costs.”
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