COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - WINK News uncovered a massive budget deficit in local government. Its costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. But, Collier County leaders have a new plan to raise money without raising your taxes.
Michael Kelly rides the bus everyday to and from work. He tells WINK News he'd be lost without public transit.
"Yeah, I use it a lot to get to work, to get where there's something to eat," said Kelly. "Without the bus I would get kind of trapped."
1.2 million passengers ride Collier Area Transit each year, but WINK News uncovered the bus system is losing money. County leaders say CAT is running at a $400,000 deficit. Now, county leaders are brainstorming alternative ways to raise revenue without raising your taxes. One way is through advertising.
"It will help with that deficit," said Collier Area Transit Director, Michelle Arnold.
WINK News found out, Lee County has been advertising on its bus system since 1999. Last year, the ads generated almost $408thousand. But, LeeTran executives told WINK News most of their revenue comes from ads on benches, bus shelters and on the buses themselves. Advertising in places Collier County won't allow.
?"Collier County is very sensitive to our appearance and the aesthetics of our community so we're wanting to limit it to the interior of the buses," said Arnold.
The ads in Collier County buses will also be inside transfer stations and on bus passes. They'll also be announced on bus intercoms. The county estimates it will make $230thousand from those ads each year, about half the deficit. Kelly says it’s a positive move for everyone.
"Maybe it will get them more money," said Kelly. "Maybe they'll be able to get more bike racks and do more things with the bus and it will benefit everybody in the end."
Bus riders can expect to see the advertisements starting in October.