Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Hamilton puts levy on ballot

Transit tax would provide weekday bus service

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Full 12-hour, weekday bus service will resume next year if city voters pass a 0.5-mill tax levy March 2.

City Council on Monday approved placing a transit tax on the ballot that would generate $449,238 a year for five years.

The owner of a $100,000 home would pay $15.31a year in new taxes, or about $1.25 a month, said Mike Samoviski, city manager.

"There is a (mass transit) need in our community. We're an older community," said Mayor Donald V. Ryan.

The Butler County Regional Transit Authority would use the funds to run "The Shuttle" bus service in the city. The tax was placed on the ballot because the Transit Authority had no authority to seek a tax in just one municipality.

John Moser, a retired Butler County Common Pleas judge, will serve as levy campaign chairman, says Council Member Richard Holzberger. He has led successful campaigns for Hamilton police and fire levies. "This shows there is support for the levy," Holzberger says.

Three countywide tax levies have been rejected by voters in recent years, forcing the Transit Authority to cease operation of "The Blast" bus service last December. But Hamilton voters had strongly supported two of those levies, Vice Mayor James Noonan said.

The Blast was a countywide bus service, whereas The Shuttle operates in Hamilton only. Ridership of "The Shuttle" has increased steadily since three-day-a-week service launched in October.

"If the levy passes, we'll go to a fully operational transit system in the city, five days a week," he says.

The brief meeting was to have opened with a public hearing on the city's $219-million budget for 2004. But the two people who attended the meeting did not comment.

The budget, which draws on $1 million from general fund reserves, will be adopted by council Dec. 17.


E-mail jkieswetter@enquirer.com

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