Canton Regional Chamber Board of Directors endorses SARTA renewal
CANTON, OHIO (March 25, 2011) – For the sake of jobs and education, the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has endorsed a renewal of the one-quarter percent sales tax that runs SARTA. SARTA is the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority, the county bus service, and it has been running on the quarter-percent sales tax (1 penny on a $4 purchase) that voters first approved in 1997. The tax has to be renewed every five years. “One of the marks of a progressive community is a well-run public transportation system,” said Dennis P. Saunier, president and CEO of the Canton Regional Chamber. “That is why we are proud to endorse another renewal of the SARTA tax.” The Canton Regional Chamber’s Board of Directors, made up of volunteers who are leaders in the business and professional community, endorse a tax issue only when it has an important effect on business or jobs development. But SARTA’s sales tax certainly qualifies. If voters say yes to the SARTA’s tax renewal on May 3, nothing changes. No one loses a ride to work or to college. No one is left without a way to the doctor or the grocery story. And no one pays any more tax than they’re already paying. SARTA buses transport thousands of workers to their jobs every working day, and many hundreds of students to college or career classes that prepare them for jobs in our local economy. In addition, SARTA provides transportation to grocery stores, doctor’s offices and day-care locations for people who cannot or do not drive. SARTA operates buses on 34 routes throughout Stark County and also provides door-to-door service to citizens with special circumstances. It transports 8,000 riders every weekday. Of those riders, 49 percent of them earn less than $9,000 per year, and 60 percent have no access to a car. The penny on a $4 purchase that Stark Countians pay for bus service makes up 74 percent of SARTA’s operating budget. It could not keep the buses running without renewal of its small tax every five years. Despite rising fuel costs, SARTA has been able to maintain service without asking for a tax increase by rearranging routes to make them more productive and by reducing staff to make the operation as efficient as possible. Furthermore, every dollar Stark County taxpayers invest in SARTA generates $3 to $5 in the local economy, in such things as wages spent and services purchased.