2019 TRANSIT BUDGET TO BE BALANCED USING RESERVE FUNDS

Expenses projected to be $3.8 million higher than revenues
CINCINNATI – The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority has approved a $99.9 million operating budget for its 2019 fiscal year, which begins Jan. 1.  This is $1.8 million more than SORTA’s 2018 operating budget of $98.1 million.

Revenues are projected to be $96.1 million -- $3.8 million less than expenses.  SORTA has authorized the use of available funds from the 2018 budget and a portion of existing reserves to balance the budget.  A balanced budget is required by state law. 

Although SORTA will continue to do everything possible to reduce expenses in 2019, the budget reflects no change in current fares, no wage increases, and no employee layoffs.

As of Jan. 1, SORTA will have 74 Metro buses that are 12 years or older, past their useful life.  A new bus costs about $500,000.  Thanks in large part to grants totaling $15.7 million Metro will replace 43 old buses in 2019, six of which will be small buses to improve efficiency on routes that don’t need a full-size bus. These new buses will result in an estimated annual maintenance and operating savings of $500,000.

Operating and capital budget deficits are forecast for the next 10 years, totaling about $160.5 million.

“We are working hard to maintain service for our riders. We do, however, recognize that using reserves to balance the 2019 budget is like dipping into your savings account to pay monthly bills,” said Kreg Keesee, SORTA Board Chair.  “It’s a short-term solution. Our funding model is broken, and we must find a way to become financially sustainable in order to provide the transit system the region deserves.”

SORTA operates Metro and Access non-profit, tax-funded public transit services, providing about 14 million rides per year in Greater Cincinnati.
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