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Port Authority Looking To Tap Into Regional Asset Sales Tax To Shore Up Funding

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Andy Sheehan Andy Sheehan
KDKA-TV Investigator Andy Sheehan began his broadcast journalism...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The largest service cuts in the history of the Port Authority are on hold, at least for the next year; but the fight for funding is far from over.

The Port Authority is looking to tap the Regional Asset Sales Tax to shore up its funding; however, arts groups funded by RAD say that’s not what the tax is for.

The theater company and about two dozen other arts groups made their annual request Wednesday for funding from the Regional Asset Board.

But also there was Steve Bland, the executive director of Port Authority, who made a funding request – $3 million a year for the next 10 years. And not everyone’s happy about that.

“Is that what these funds are for?” says Mark Clayton Southers, of Playwrighters Theater. “I’m under the impression they’re for the arts. So, we’re going to be doing plays on the back of buses now?”

“I don’t think there’s any question that public transportation in any region is a true asset – 250,000 daily riders, 100,000 more individuals each day using transit,” said Bland.

Bland and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald say the funding is needed to shore up Port Authority’s finances and give the system some stability, arguing that good public transit is essential for the regional economy.

“Frankly, all lot of the folks who get funding through RAD aren’t going to have patrons and employees who are able to get to their facilities without it,” said Bland.

The board took no action Thursday and will take it’s time evaluating the request. In fact, it’s hired outside legal counsel to help it make a decision.

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