The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) Board of Trustees approved today the placement of a permanent 0.8% sales tax levy on the March 2020 ballot.
As a regional transit authority, SORTA can place a sales tax initiative on the ballot to be considered by the voters of Hamilton County by submitting the request to the Hamilton County Board of Elections. Ohio law enables SORTA to use a portion of the sales tax for road and infrastructure projects in Hamilton County related to its bus service.
“I’m thrilled to say that the SORTA board showed overwhelming support in bringing to the ballot an initiative that supports and funds the full Reinventing Metro Plan,” said Kreg Keesee, SORTA Board Chair. “Our ability to connect our community to jobs, school, health care and other opportunities all comes down to one thing – having a robust transportation system. What was determined here today will be transformational for the Metro system and our customers and will help define the future of our region for generations to come.”
The sales tax would fully fund the Reinventing Metro Plan approved by the Board in January after extensive community engagement. This plan will be used for service improvements, including updating Metro’s bus fleet, new transit centers and park and rides, adding new routes, providing longer service hours, increased frequency and improved service for Access, which serves individuals with disabilities. Twenty five percent of the funds will be used towards infrastructure projects, such as repairs to sidewalks, roads, bridges, etc. within Hamilton County.
The deadline to place the levy on the March 17, 2020 ballot is Dec. 18, 2019.
SORTA currently receives local funding from a 0.3% City of Cincinnati earnings tax that was designated by its voters to be used for transportation purposes. A charter amendment on the November 2019 City of Cincinnati ballot, if approved, will eliminate that earnings tax on the condition that the electors of Hamilton County pass a sales tax in 2020 for general revenues for SORTA bus operations and related infrastructure improvements
Without an improved and sustainable funding source, Metro is facing a $160.5 million projected deficit over the next 10 years, which would require significant service reductions and fare increases, while further reducing our regions access to jobs and much needed services.
To learn more about the Reinventing Metro Plan, visit ReinventingMetro.com
Metro is a non-profit, tax-funded public service of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, providing about 14 million rides per year.