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Paying for ADA is chief issue for municipalities.

Generating funding to pay for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is the primary concern of 21 cities selected to be surveyed by the National League of Cities. This finding held true for large and small cities alike.

The survey was conducted in response to the Transportation and Communications (T&C) Steering Committee meeting in March on ADA and other recent federal mandates. A questionnaire regarding compliance with ADA was mailed to 21 selected NLC member cities.

Of the cities represented in the survey, the majority of them replied that the necessary fund for ADA compliance will be allocated from the city's general fund. Other funding options include property or revenue taxes, special highway funds, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), bonds and monies from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

There is a wide disparity in the actual costs cities reported they will incur in complying with ADA. The average costs to cities varies as each needs in order to meet the provisions outlined in ADA. For example, some cities need only retrofit some of their present vehicles in order to fully comply with ADA. Other cities, however, must purchase an entirely new fleet of vehicles for full compliance. Thus, the overall cost for cities to comply with ADA range from $1,500 to $1 million.

While most of the cities represented in the survey are concerned with funding sources for complying with ADA, none of them expressed interest in applying for the Department of Transportation (DOT) waiver for lift requirements or para-transit services on the basis of "non-availability" or "undue financial burden." Cities who are in a serious financial crunch should research the possibilities of using this waiver as a supplemental source of funding for ADA provisions.

When asked if the federal timetable for complying with ADA are realistic, the majority of cities responded favorably. Most cities are expecting to be in full compliance within the next two to three years.

Some cities have found it more beneficial to prioritize and to set specific schedules to some of their ADA needs. For example, Monroe, Louisiana has set a deadline of June 1993 for completing their para-transit services and December 1993 for retrofitting their buses with wheelchair accessibility.

A primary, yet indirect concern that cities have with the federal timetable is the difficulty in determining the most effective methods for implementing physical adaptions, such as wheelchair lifts on buses and employment for the disabled.

For those cities who are searching for some practical alternatives and suggestions for complying with ADA look to the following cities:

1) The city of Hickory, N.C. is seeking community integration and input in its effort to comply with ADA. Hickory is actively informing the community about ADA and encouraging their comments and recommendations.

2) Cities such as Dallas and Salt Lake City have allowed their para-transit services. to be operated and financed by country or regional transportation authorities.

3) Mid-size cities should look to the city of Kettering, Ohio and consider establishing joint partnerships with their local Parks and Recreation Councils to provide some para-transit services.

The cities that responded have varying ranges in population, geography, and concerns regarding ADA. The smallest population community is from Mount Airy, Md. with 11,468 and the largest is Dallas, Tex. with 1,600,877. Most of the responses were from the southern, midwestern, and western regions of the nation. There are no responses from eastern cities of the United States.

The range of city's concerns, problems and interests vary depending on their size, the type of transportation systems they currently have in operation, the needs of the communities they serve, and the state of their financial budgets.

The road to complying with ADA may seem long and somewhat treacherous for many cities, but maintaining the lines of open communication with other cities and with the federal government will make the process more manageable and easier to accomplish.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
Author:Reddock, Angela
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jul 27, 1992
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