S.O.R.T.A. Board votes to explore 2017 public transit ballot issue in Hamilton County
CINCINNATI – The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) Board voted today to take all appropriate steps to explore placing a ballot issue before Hamilton County voters in 2017 to increase and enhance public transportation services. SORTA is enabled by Ohio law to place a sales or property tax before Hamilton County voters at its discretion and with certain limitations provided in the Ohio Revised Code.
In a special board meeting on Wednesday, June 29, the board cited previously shared financial projections that show expenses outstripping revenue by as early as 2018. The board also referred to several recent reports that make the case for increased and improved transit service to support access to jobs.
In its March 2016 report to SORTA, the Metro Futures Task Force – composed of business and civic leaders -- recommended a permanent, countywide sales tax for public transit services. The Task Force also recommended the elimination of the portion of the City of Cincinnati earnings tax collected for transit. In addition, a recent UC Economics Center study found that 75,000+ jobs are not easily accessible via Metro.
“We can't keep kicking the can down the road. This is bigger than politics; we are talking about quality of life. We have an urgent need to ensure our system’s sustainability and to improve public transit access to jobs,” said Jason Dunn, SORTA Board chairman. “A robust transit system will make our region more competitive, particularly in attracting Millennials. Our peer cities get it; they’re investing in transit to support economic development and we can’t afford to be left behind.”
SORTA is a tax-supported political subdivision of the State of Ohio. SORTA operates Metro fixed-route and Access paratransit services in Hamilton County, with commuter and job-access services in Butler, Clermont and Warren counties, providing about 17 million rides per year. # # #