City leaders consider cutting Rockford Mass Transit District fun - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

City leaders consider cutting Rockford Mass Transit District funding

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

To nearly 1.8 million riders a year, some say the Rockford Mass Transit System is a lifeline to the rest of the world. 

"People use it to go to work, people use it to get to desperately needed medical appointments and therapy appointments," says Lisa Brown with the Rockford Mass Transit District. 

To help get those riders from point A to point B, the city has given the RMTD a roughly $1.5 million subsidy for the past 10 years. But with a looming $10.2 million shortfall, city leaders say they're looking at possibly slashing $300,000 from the bus system leaving it with roughly $1.2 million.

"$1.5 million that we're giving to RMTD is $1.5 million less that we can give to the police department for police officers or fire department for firefighters or street division for patching potholes," Carrie Eklund, Rockford's Finance Director says. 

But, it would actually lose much more than $300,000. That's because Illinois matches 65 percent of the transit's funding if another source can cover the rest. 

"So now instead of looking at a $300,000 cut, you're looking at $900,000," Brown says. "So, that is something we want to minimize at every extent possible." 

We asked RMTD how this will impact passengers and if a cut in funding means layoffs. But, it would not go into details -- only saying they're trying to handle it the best they can. 

One of the ways RMTD says it's trying to offset that potential shortfall is by advertising on all 66 of its bus stop shelters. But, it is currently not allowed under Rockford city code. 

"Obviously, we're not going to coup $300,000," Brown says. "However, it would give us some additional revenues in our coffers and it's something a lot of other cities do." 

City leaders say they expect that item to be voted on during next week's city council meeting. 

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