Insulate the assets: RAD must protect its core if it helps transit

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Last week the Allegheny Regional Asset District board listened while county officials made the case for using a sliver of revenue from the county's 1 percent sales tax for transit.

Although board chairman Dan Griffin said he favors giving the Port Authority $3 million next year of RAD's $84 million total to help leverage $30 million from the state, it's hard to know if the necessary six votes (from seven members) are there.

To safeguard the core mission of RAD, which is to support the region's cultural, recreational and educational assets, members asked the right questions at the hearing. Could the county raise the 7 percent drink tax to get transit revenue? Could the money be squeezed from somewhere else?

The county told the board that the Port Authority would not seek a long-term contract for support, but would return each year to make its case, as other assets do. That's a big plus and it would help insulate libraries, parks and arts groups against any RAD fund erosion due to a transit allocation.

That has to be the bottom line in any decision by the RAD board to spend funds on bus and rail. For as essential as transit is to a successful region, so, too, are the assets traditionally supported by the Regional Asset District.

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