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As SORTA Tests The Waters For Sales Tax, Commissioner Wants In The Loop

Ann Thompson

A survey hints at a sales tax ballot issue from the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority. SORTA asked a sampling of Hamilton County residents if they would vote for a sales tax to support public transportation.

County Commissioner Todd Portune thinks the transit authority shouldn't be acting alone on the issue.

“The verbiage that was used suggests that SORTA is looking at the county as simply an interested stakeholder, as opposed to having the preeminent role that the county does relative to the transit authority. Including the fact that the authority is a creature of county action,” he says.

Hamilton County appoints six of the 13 SORTA board members.

The telephone survey of 404 Hamilton County voters twice asked if they would support either a quarter cent or a half cent sales tax for ten years.  The second time came after questions about increased and enhanced service. 

The number who said they would vote for either the quarter cent or half cent increased upon the second asking.

The survey was conducted by Fallon Research from Feb. 8 through Feb. 11, 2016.

In a release announcing the survey results, SORTA stated there were "... no current plans to seek additional funding..."

Portune says improving SORTA's services through increased revenue should not be solely Hamilton County's responsibility.

“If we’re going to have a transportation system that is integrated, that does serve the region the way in which a system should serving a metropolitan area like ours, it’s got to be integrated locally across state lines as well as through multiple counties," Portune says. 

“And the funding for that has got to be a multi-county, multi-state base,” Portune says.

He plans to invite SORTA to the Transportation Improvement District meeting to present its case later this month.

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.