( Hamilton County ) - A statement from the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority on Tuesday afternoon says the board of trustees will not consider a sales tax levy when it meets tomorrow.
SORTA Board Chairman Kreg Keesee says "it has become clear to me that we have not reached an appropriate consensus within the Board and the community to present Hamilton County voters with a sales tax option to address the significant financial and operational needs of the Metro bus system."
The regional transit has been working for years on a "Re-inventing Metro" plan; taking comment from the public on the best ways to expand service throughout Hamilton County, but it needed that sales tax hike to implement it.
In Tuesday's statement, the SORTA Board says it now expects to have to reduce service and ask Cincinnati City Council to increase fares.
ORIGINAL STORY BY BRIAN COMBS:
Will another penny be tacked on to the sales tax in Hamilton County?
The board that runs the Metro bus system will decide Wednesday morning if they will place a levy on the ballot this fall that could give Hamilton County the highest sales tax rate of any county in Ohio. The proposed tax would change how Metro is funded. Currently, the bus system gets its money through the city of Cincinnati's earnings tax and supporters argue a countywide sales tax would be more equitable. They also argue that using the sales tax could bring in more money to expand bus service across the region.
One of the biggest complaints about the local transit service is that the wait times are too long and that there are not enough crosstown routes for commuters who work downtown. If SORTA goes for an increase of a full cent, it would have the money to improve service. It is also possible the board could ask for an increase of a half of a cent which would just maintain service at the current level.
The map below shows the current sales tax collected by every county in Ohio. Hamilton County leaders have already enacted an increase of .25 cents and if another penny would be tacked on for buses the county would have the highest sales tax rate in Ohio of 8.25 cents per dollar.