A sales tax increase to increase funding to public transit failed to pass in Washington County.
The official results:
Washington County Transit Tax
|149 of 149 Precincts Reporting|
The measure failed after nearly 64 percent of voters said they opposed it. The 1/4 cent sales tax would have been used to increase services for Ozark Region Transit. Ozark Region Transit said they would use the money to expand the number of routes from six to 28 in Washington County.
The tax increase had opposition from the county Tea Party and from a citizens group that tried to get a court injunction.
Before voters went out to the polls Tuesday several people filled side streets with signs in hand, those for and against the tax increase took park in last minute campaigning.
The Washington County Tea Party members say their opposition isn't against Ozark Regional Transit, but against taxation.
"We realize that some tax is necessary to run government to be in a civilized society,” said Washington County Tea Party Chairman Jeff Oland. “So, it's not about being against helping people or this or that."
Those that spent the day rallying for the measure say the additional routes are badly needed.
"I have to deny people on a daily basis that we're unable to take them to doctors’ appointments, or to take them to the unemployment office or to assist with food stamps or with the doctors,” said Gloria Neal.
Grace Donoho relied on ORT during for weeks of rehab after knee surgery.
"It’s a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for people in our community to have public transportation and at a very low cost,” Donoho said. “Twenty-five cents for every $100 spent.”
The group Citizens for Effective Transit filed a lawsuit against Washington County to get the issue taken off the ballot, claiming the Quorum Court didn't follow the law when they put the tax hike to a public vote, but on Friday a judge dismissed the case. The group said the tax is excessive and focused only on public transit, and that it should have been part of a comprehensive transportation proposal that includes money for highways.
Had the measure passed Citizens for Effective Transit were planning to file additional lawsuits, but they do not plan to continue to take any action against the way the measure was added to ballots since it failed.