CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Hamilton County voters approved Issue 7, a countywide tax hike for improved Metro bus service.
“After years of hard work, organizing, and advocating for this change, Hamilton County voters made a generational investment in our roads, bridges, and buses,” Taylor Liggins said in a news release.
For the first time in Hamilton County history, voters approved a ballot measure that will increase the Hamilton County sales tax by 0.8% and decrease the City of Cincinnati’s earnings tax by 0.3%.
The new levy will dedicate 75% of the revenue from the sales tax to expanding and operating the Cincinnati Metro bus system and 25% to support infrastructure across Hamilton County.
Hamilton County will now have the second-highest sales tax rate in the state, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.
“And, despite the uncertainty and concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that Hamilton County residents understand the importance of public transportation to our region’s economic development, job growth and healthcare access. We’ve had great support from our region’s elected officials; business, education, faith and union leaders; as well as our many advocates and customers,” Kreg Keesee, chair of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority said in a new release.
According to Keese, in the coming months, Metro will begin rolling out the ‘Reinventing Metro’ plan which will provide improvements and expansions, including: more crosstown routes, more frequent service, 24-hour service on several routes, expanded weekend service, earlier and later service, circulator routes, extension of express routes, new service to emerging job centers, and an overall expansion of its service area.
“Thanks to the voters, the Western Hills Viaduct will be replaced, all major roads will be fixed sooner, and more people will be connected to jobs through expanded bus service. Cincinnati will make history by becoming the only major city in Ohio to lower its earnings tax, which will attract more headquarters to the city. This remarkable result—better roads and bus service, lower earnings tax—will mark the next great chapter of Cincinnati’s growth and renaissance,” Mayor John Cranley said in a statement.
Another close race was for Hamilton County Commissioner. Alicia Reece received 46.99% of the votes and Connie Pillich had 43.30%.
According to our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer, Reece will take on Indian Hill businessman and Republican Andy Black in the general election for the late Todd Portune’s seat on the three-member Hamilton County Board of Commissioners.
Black released the following comment on the race:
“Alicia Reece is a downtown, City Hall Democrat. The people of Hamilton County do not want to see that brand of extreme and chaotic politics on the county level. As the county faces down serious and complicated financial issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more critical now than ever that we elect someone with private sector business experience that is going to bring balance to Commission. Right now our Commission represents only a portion of Hamilton County - we need to bring political balance in order to provide better representation and a diversity of ideas.
“Our campaign isn’t going to be what political observers and voters are used to seeing from candidates for Commissioner. Our campaign isn’t going to reflect the bitter partisanship that we see on the national level. This is a campaign about ideas that are relevant to residents in Hamilton County, no matter their political stripe. Over the next few weeks we plan on rolling out specific, concrete solutions that are going to shake up local politics and focus the local dialogue on the future in a major way.”
The coronavirus pandemic turned Ohio’s March 17 election into an extended vote-by-mail one.
More election results from other counties are expected Thursday and in the coming days.
The Clermont County Board of Elections said they will meet Friday at 4 p.m. to certify theirs and release, according to their website.
Butler County Board of Elections plans to certify their results Tuesday, May 19.
That is the state deadline for all counties to certify the election, Ohio’s Secretary of State has said.
See all of the Hamilton County election results here.