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No RTA Tax Levy On The Ballot This November

[ideastream file photo]

You won’t be seeing an RTA tax levy on the ballot this fall.

The transit authority board decided the financial need is there, but the time isn’t right.

Newburgh Heights Mayor Trevor Elkins introduced a resolution anyway, despite concerned comments from every other board member present at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I think we should take the opportunity to give the voters a choice this November to approve or disapprove a four-tenths of one percent sales tax increase,” said Elkins.

Board members said they were not ready to put the tax increase before voters.

“We have to get out and talk to the community,” said board member Valerie McCall, City of Cleveland Chief of Government and International Affairs.

Some board members said they aren’t sure residents trust them, especially after recent turmoil within the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

“To put it before the whole county, I think we need to have our house in order,” said board member Karen Gabriel Moss. “To be honest, I don’t think we have our house in order.”

Other board members raised concerns about the cost of a campaign.

Marvin Ranaldson of Clevelanders for Public Transit understands the board’s wariness, but he worries about RTA’s funding future.

“We’re just disappointed…that after all this time and all this talk, that they decided to do nothing, which is basically what they have been doing for the last two years,” said Ranaldson after Tuesday’s meeting.

Clevelanders for Public Transit staged a rally late last month, asking RTA to approve a resolution for the tax levy.

Both Elkins and Ranaldson expressed concern about turnout in next year’s elections.

“This would be the greatest opportunity before 2020, which is when the authority starts operating in the red,” said Elkins in his attempt to appeal to board members. “This would be the greatest likelihood for turnout that is favorable.”

A statement from RTA Board President Dennis Clough says a tax levy “will likely be sometime in 2019.” The statement adds that several studies are in progress which will “help give RTA and the community the information needed to make sound and informed decisions.”

A fare study and an economic impact study are both underway, according to the agency.