LIMA — With the prospect of a levy potentially on the horizon, the Allen County Regional Transit Authority wanted to hear from county residents as to what their thoughts were concerning local public transit.
With that in mind, the RTA held two “listening sessions” Wednesday with representatives from area agencies and organizations, along with the general public. Conducted by Cleveland-based business consulting firm Burges & Burges, the sessions will hopefully give the RTA direction on how to better relate with the public as well as if the public is open to a potential levy, according to RTA Executive Director Shelia Schmitt.
“We’re at a point to where we’ve looked at everything,” she said. “We’ve talked with industrial parks, the universities and medical facilities, so we think we have a good, strong coverage there. So what else would the community like to see? So these listening sessions are basically to give us an idea of how to continue our strong growth for the community. We hear what our riders want, but it’s time to listen to what the community wants.”
Participants were asked about their knowledge of the RTA’s budget struggles, with the agency having not received any county funds since 2008 and federal grant money drying up. They were also asked about how to better interact with the county as well as their thoughts on a potential levy.
“We’ve tightened the belt as tight as we can tighten it,” Schmitt said. “We are looking to do a levy, but before that, we’ve got to do our homework to see if the community sees us as important as we see ourselves.”
Schmitt said any potential levy would not come on this year’s ballot, but the agency is considering starting the levy petition process as early as next year.
“We’ve got a little time to do our research and reach out to the community and get some feedback,” she said.
A representative was on hand to conduct the session, but he would not go on record, per company policy. The results from the sessions will not be immediately available to the RTA.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.