The Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has endorsed the sales tax renewal for the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA). SARTA is asking voters to renew the one-quarter percent sales tax for another 10 years.
SARTA provides about 2.8 million rides per year to work, to medical care, to higher education and job training, and to food and other retail stores.
The sales tax provides about $14.5 million in operating revenue, by far the largest source of funds. It could not operate without the sales tax.
While operating an efficient and necessary public service, SARTA also has become a leader in alternative-fuel public transportation. It continues to transition from a diesel bus fleet to a fleet that runs on cleaner natural gas.
Recently, it has set on a course to become the nation’s third-largest bus fleet running on hydrogen fuel cells and the largest such fleet east of California. The emission from a hydrogen fuel cell is water.
SARTA expects to have 10 buses in its fuel-cell fleet by 2018. It is developing the fuel-cell fleet with nearly $20 million in federal and state grants, and in doing so it is trying to source as many bus components as it can from Ohio manufacturers.
Previously, SARTA asked for five-year renewals of its sales tax for operations. The Canton Regional Chamber’s board endorsed the last renewal in 2011. The quarter-percent sales tax is the smallest fraction of add-on sales tax SARTA can seek under state law.