Enquirer Article: Facts About The City/SORTA IGA

 Enquirer Article: Facts About The City/SORTA IGA

On Saturday, The Cincinnati  Enquirer article titled, "City Seeks Change in SORTA Agreement" made several errors that are factually incorrect.

The City would like you to know the Facts.

Enquirer:
City officials this week asked the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, which runs Metro, to change an agreement with the city that currently prohibits using money from Metro’s "transit fund" for the $110 million streetcar project.

FACT:
The change was requested by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and prepared by SORTA. 

In May 2011, the City and SORTA executed an Intergovernmental Agreement between the City and SORTA (IGA) that set out the respective responsibilities of the City and SORTA in the management of the two federal capital grants that had been awarded to the streetcar project at the time. Under the IGA, SORTA, the designated recipient of FTA funding in the region, agreed to serve as the recipient and pass-through entity for these funds in order to facilitate compliance with FTA rules.

With the award of the TIGER 3 grant to the streetcar project in late 2012, an amendment to the IGA adding this new $10.92 million to the suite of funds addressed by the IGA was requested by the FTA. On Oct. 16, 2012, SORTA staff transmitted a draft amendment prepared by SORTA to the City for the City's review and comment.

Enquirer:
The city’s current agreement with SORTA explicitly forbids using transit-fund money to help provide the local share of the streetcar project, which also will receive tens of millions of dollars in federal grants. The proposed change would remove that ban from the agreement.

FACT:
The current IGA agreement does not address the use of transit money for streetcar; no ban exists in the current IGA agreement.

Section 5D of the May 2011 City/SORTA IGA states:

The City agrees to provide sufficient funds or approved in-kind resources to serve as local match for the Grant Funds for the Project in compliance with 49 U.S.C. Chapter 53. The City certifies that it has or will have the proportionate amount of local match available promptly as Project costs are incurred or become due.

FACT:
The change to the agreement offered by SORTA actually changed this provision of the existing IGA agreement.  

Rather than retain the existing language in Section 5.D. above, the draft IGA amendment proposed by SORTA in its transmittal of Oct. 16, 2012 substantively changed Section 5.D. to add, "from sources other than the transit fund" to the second sentence of the Section 5.D.

FACT:
The City rejected the changes to the existing agreement requested by SORTA, preserving the language of the existing agreement.

In its Nov. 5, 2012 response to SORTA, the City struck the change requested by SORTA as shown in the redlined copy of the amendment proposed by SORTA. The City's deletion shown in Section 5.D. preserved the existing language of the May 2011 IGA.  

FACT:
The City is not using Transit Fund resources to match federal grants for the streetcar.

The City has consistently and repeatedly stated and documented the sources of the local match it is providing the federal streetcar grants. These sources are described on the streetcar website.