EORTA seeks 0.5-mill levy

The Eastern Ohio Regional Transit Authority is seeking a 0.5 mill increase for the local transit levy on the May 2014 primary ballot in order to cover an anticipated increase in operation costs next year.

EORTA’s board unanimously approved to submit the increase at a Tuesday meeting from the existing 2 mill to 2.5 mill, which would bring in an additional $108,000 annually for three years. EORTA’s current levy is due to expire in 2014.

EORTA Executive Director Tom Hvizdos said the board expects its expenses to go up about 4 percent in the next year, based on past history of increased costs for gas and insurance. Hvizdos told the board if they choose to keep the existing levy rate, EORTA could run a deficit in 2014 and the beginning of 2015 as expenses go up.

“If you look at this three year period this levy is going to cover, we have the reserves to cover the amounts, but it would significantly deplete them,” Hvizdos said. “I thought it would be prudent not to just go for a renewal of the existing 2 mill levy, but to think of an increase as well. The $108,000 would be enough to cover what we anticipate to be revenue shortfalls.’

Hvizdos said the board could consider raising the levy further after three years in order to cover the replacement of aging buses. He estimated the cost of a new 24-passenger bus to be around $140,000- $150,000.

The Ohio Valley Regional Transportation Authority will also discuss the possibility of a levy increase at 4 p.m. today in the board offices at 21 S. Huron St.