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Fontana Introducing Legislation to Reconfigure Port Authority Board
On March 29, 2011
HARRISBURG, March 29, 2011 – Responding to the most recent failure to address issues with the Port Authority of Allegheny County, state Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (D-Allegheny) is introducing legislation to reconfigure the Port Authority Board to ensure better representation for those impacted by the decisions made.
The amendment to the Second Class County Port Authority Act would require the Chief Executive to appoint members to the board that would represent specific segments of the population. The only requirement in the current law is that a member of County Council shall be on the board, a requirement that is kept in Fontana’s bill. Additionally, the bill would require the appointment of a member of the House and Senate from Allegheny County, a member of the Transit Council, and a member that would represent labor.
“The Commonwealth currently provides 63% of the Port Authority’s budget, yet has absolutely no say in the decisions made by the board in regard to service or other issues. This has to change,” Fontana said. “Ensuring that the users (Transit Council) and labor are also at the table is important to provide a full understanding of the issues before the board.”
All of the appointees should possess knowledge, ability or skills related to the operation of a transit authority. The bill also provides that, to the extent possible, that the members reflect the racial, ethic, gender and geographic diversity of the county.
“Designating members of the board will, hopefully, provide a clearer picture of the state’s responsibility and capability to address funding and to identify options available locally,” Fontana said. “While the county has fully matched the Act 44 operating funds over the past few years, it has not provided any additional funding to the authority although it lobbied for the Poured Beverage and Car Rental Tax for exactly that purpose. In reality, that tax rate has actually been reduced and the authority has not seen any additional funding. It is time for the county to expand the board’s perspective for its local funding decisions and options.”
Currently, the nine-member board is appointed by the Chief Executive and confirmed by County Council. The only requirement is that members must be residents of the county and citizens of the United States and that one member must be a member of County Council.