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Economy

SARTA Says Kasich's Budget Would Hurt Already Underfunded Public Transit in Ohio

Passengers boarding a SARTA bus in Canton
SARTA

The head of Stark County’s transit system is predicting major cuts to public transportation under Gov. John Kasich’s proposed state budget.

SARTA CEO Kirt Conrad says a sales tax levied on some health care services in 2010 has helped the agency partially recover from the recession. But the tax could be repealed this summer unless Gov. Kasich expands it to all managed-care organizations in Ohio.

“We’re one of the only transit systems that don’t have Sunday service, which we cut in 2009. So we still haven’t completely recovered from the cuts we made at the time the [managed-care organization] tax was put in place.”

Conrad says the loss of sales tax revenue may require SARTA to reduce services, including on-demand transportation for people with disabilities. And Conrad says all Ohioans who use public transit would be affected.

“Stark County alone is going to be losing close to $2 million. Cleveland RTA is looking at $18 million. So this isn’t just an issue facing us; it’s an issue that’s going to be facing all Ohioans.”