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Commissioners Tell SORTA They Won't Support One Cent Transit Sales Tax

Sarah Ramsey

Hamilton County commissioners say they will not support a one cent sales tax increase to benefit mass transit. In a letter to the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority Wednesday afternoon, commissioners say they would get behind a smaller increase.

The letter says there are other demands on the county sales tax, including infrastructure and public safety, "and we believe that any proposed increase must be viewed in that context."

"We cannot afford to put inordinate pressure on our capacity to provide basic services to county residents and tax our residents far beyond the norm for similar counties in Ohio," reads the letter signed by Denise Driehaus, Stephanie Summerow Dumas and Todd Portune.

The SORTA board has warned for years of an operating deficit, and has been looking for solutions, including fare increases, service reductions and a sales tax. Currently, Metro is funded mostly through Cincinnati's earnings tax.

Commissioners write they could support up to 7-tenths of a cent, saying that would raise $110 million a year for SORTA. They also say they would support keeping the city's earning tax as part of Metro's revenue, "especially if infrastructure improvements, expanded service for people with disabilities throughout Hamilton County, and progress toward an integrated regional system are a part of the final plan."

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Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio: and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.