LIMA — Voters turned down the Allen County Regional Transit Authority’s sales tax request Tuesday, saying they weren’t too happy about an increased tax when they weren’t sure how the funds would be used.
The 0.25 percent sales tax had 59 percent of voters saying no, with 41 percent saying yes on the issue. The proposed bill would have required Lima residents to pay an extra 25 cents on 100 purchases besides housing, utilities and food. It would’ve raised about $4 million a year, easily covering a $1 million annual deficit by the agency.
Harry James, 60, of Lima, said he understood the importance of the transportation services in Lima, but he does not believe the sales tax were necessary.
“I think they’re going to have to learn to live within their means, just like everybody else,” James said. “Everybody’s in a pinch. You’ve got to tighten your belt like everyone else.”
Janice Ball, 68, of Lima’s 5th Ward, also opposed of the tax.
“I’m unclear of where the extra money will go, and I think that services that are far out in the county where the RTA goes are unnecessary,” Ball said. “I just wasn’t comfortable voting for something like that.”
Sheila Haney, the RTA Executive Director, said in an earlier interview with The Lima News that she expected RTA would be forced to cut services that recently expired grants covered, including Saturday routes and evening routes.
Just last year, the RTA transported 396,000 riders. RTA officials expect even more this year because riders are in need of transportation to and from work as well as to medical appointments.
Haney said she was worried if RTA cut down the routes, less people will ride the bus, reducing grant funding in the future, eventually leading to a system shutdown.
Ryan Morton, 25, of Lima, says his brother rides the bus, and public transportation is the most important thing for getting to and from work. He values the RTA and believes that the rejection of the sales tax will cause the entire city to suffer.
Michelle Watson, 41, of the southeastern portion of Lima, was passionate about the sales tax. Her son has been reliant upon the RTA to get to and from school. She is also concerned about transportation for veterans like herself.
“You have a lot of patients that they don’t realize use this,” Watson said. “Not only is it is the veterans, but you also have dialysis patients using these services.”
Prior to 2008, the Allen County commissioners funded the RTA, but it was later cut.
Tyerell Boughan, 61, of Lima, rides the bus on a daily basis and believes that public transportation is a big asset to Lima. He voted for the issue.
“I talked to a lot of the bus drivers, and they’re going to cut some of the routes if they don’t have enough funding and not enough people on the bus because of funding,” he said. “That’s something that the city really needs.”
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456.