Lawsuit seeks to halt transit vote in Washington County

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A citizens group filed a lawsuit Thursday to stop a proposed sales-tax increase vote that would generate money for public transit in Washington County.

Attorney Coleman Taylor, one of the plaintiffs, said the petition filed in circuit court asks for an injunction to stop the May 22 sales tax vote to benefit Ozark Regional Transit.

Taylor said the suit contends that the Washington County Quorum Court didn’t follow the law at a March 8 meeting when they voted to place the proposal on the ballot.

The law requires the quorum court to first endorse the tax themselves as a governing body before designating it for a public vote, Coleman said. In this case, the quorum court referred the proposal to the ballot without first endorsing it.

“They weren’t for or against it, the law says the quorum court first has to approve it themselves,” he said.

The ¼ cent sales tax increase is projected to generate about seven million dollars a year for Ozark Regional Transit to fund new bus routes and expand hours.

The Washington County Tea Party has opposed the tax. Other opponents say it’s excessive and focused only on public transit. They contend the measure should be part of a comprehensive transportation proposal that includes money for highways.