By Brandy Jones
Kreg Keesee, Chair of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), in an acknowledgment of the approval of Issue 7, which was decided in a final count of ballots Monday, stated, “This is the beginning of something big for our region. The voters of Hamilton County approved Issue 7, paving the way for improved, expanded transit service and transit-related infrastructure improvements throughout the county. We are thankful to the community for the confidence they have shown in SORTA.
“And, despite the uncertainty and concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that Hamilton County residents understand the importance of public transportation to our region’s economic development, job growth and healthcare access. We’ve had great support from our region’s elected officials; business, education, faith and union leaders; as well as our many advocates and customers.”
Issue 7 approved a 0.8% countywide sales tax increase for transit service and transit-related infrastructure improvements, which will trigger elimination of the 0.3% city of Cincinnati earnings tax on city residents and workers that has been Metro’s primary funding source for more than 40 years.
In the coming months, Metro will begin rolling out the Reinventing Metro plan which will provide much needed improvements and expansions, including: more crosstown routes, more frequent service, 24-hour service on several routes, expanded weekend service, earlier and later service on several routes, circulator routes, extension of Express routes, new service to emerging job centers, and an overall expansion of its service area. During this multi-year rollout we will continue to engage the community to ensure their evolving needs are met.
“After years of hard work, organizing, and advocating for this change, Hamilton County voters made a generational investment in our roads, bridges and buses,” said Taylor Liggins, Campaign Manager for the Move Forward PAC.
For the first time in Hamilton County history, voters approved a ballot measure that will increase the Hamilton County Sales tax by 0.8% and decrease the City of Cincinnati’s earnings tax by 0.3%.
The new levy will dedicate 75% of the revenue from the sales tax to expanding and operating the Cincinnati Metro bus system and 25% to support infrastructure across Hamilton County.
The Move Forward campaign was supported by one of the most broad and diverse coalitions in Hamilton County history.
Jill Meyer, President and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, said, “By saying yes to expanded funding for our transportation system, Hamilton County and the Cincinnati region are poised for growth and improved access to jobs, education, health care and all that our region has to offer. These investments are more important than ever as we restart our economy and get people to work.”