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Election 2012: Local elections include transportation questions
By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

Voters in communities that stretch from Ohio to the southeastern U.S. will decide Nov. 6 whether to boost funding for roads and transit.

Ballots in Richland County, SC, will again include a question on whether to raise the sales tax by a penny-on-the-dollar to sustain and improve roads, bus service and pedestrian routes.

The tax is estimated to generate $1.17 billion during the next 22 years. About two-thirds of the revenue would be applied to roads. Nearly a third of the money would be directed to the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority bus transit system. The remainder would benefit bike paths and sidewalks/greenways.

In 2010, voters in the county narrowly rejected a similar referendum. At that time, the tax was sought for 25 years.

Mahoning County, OH, voters will decide whether to renew the 0.25-percent sales tax to benefit the Western Reserve Transit Authority for five years. First approved in 2007, the tax amounted to $7.5 million a year ago.

The transit authority’s annual budget is estimated at $10.7 million.

Supporters of the extension say the program would need to be shut down if the ballot question fails.

In Virginia Beach, VA, ballots will include an advisory question regarding light rail.

Voters will decide whether to encourage the city council to adopt an ordinance approving the use of “all reasonable efforts” to support the financing and development of The Tide light rail into Virginia Beach.

The Tide now ends in Norfolk. However, a short distance away is the end of the old Norfolk Southern tracks owned by the city of Virginia Beach. The tracks end about seven miles from the oceanfront.

The price tag to connect the tracks and add rail is reported to be more than $1 billion.

Critics say the city needs to hold off on a decision until a consultant’s study on the project wraps up next year.

For more 2012 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the story topic. Comments may be sent to state_legislative_editor@ooida.com.

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