With half of its funding sources expiring at the end of the year, the Central Ohio Transit Authority is seeking to renew its 10-year, 0.25 percent sales tax on the Nov. 8 ballot.

With half of its funding sources expiring at the end of the year, the Central Ohio Transit Authority is seeking to renew its 10-year, 0.25 percent sales tax on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The tax, which would affect Franklin County and small portions of Delaware, Union, Licking and Fairfield counties, is expected to bring in $62 million to $65 million annually, said Marty Stutz, spokesman for COTA.

The revenue figure is half of the transit authority's annual budget, which fluctuates depending on economic activity, he said.

The tax would be collected in tandem with the transit authority's 0.25 percent permanent sales tax, which draws in the same amount of money.

Stutz said COTA has nearly doubled the hours of service on streets since the last levy was passed. The organization's long-term plan is to add 116,000 service hours over the next two years, likely peaking in 2018.

"Because this represents half of the funding, it's critical for us to continue to put the service out on the streets that we have today, with some additional service," he said.

The transit authority has expanded in significant ways since the 2006 levy passed, Stutz said.

For example, COTA established CBus, a downtown circulator that runs between the Short North and Brewery District, in May 2015.

That service, which costs $1.3 million annually, is free for riders. Stutz said that decision will be evaluated next year.

Several downtown businesses and organizations, such as Huntington and the Franklin County Convention and Facilities Authority, contributed $183,000 to fund the route. COTA hopes to generate 10 to 20 percent of what would be collected at the fare box, Stutz said.

Whether to collect fares for Cbus will be a future decision for COTA's board of trustees.

In May, COTA added AirConnect, an express service that links downtown with John Glenn Columbus International Airport. The fare is $2.75 per person.

Next month will see the launch of Line 21, a crosstown route that will travel the area from Hollywood Casino to the Mall at Tuttle Crossing to Carriage Place Shopping Center. Regular local fare is $2.

"COTA has accomplished a great deal over the past decade," said Curtis Stitt, president and CEO of the transit authority.

"We've nearly doubled the amount of service we provide, added new destinations including express service to the New Albany International Business Park and the airport, increased service frequencies and modernized our bus fleet, including transitioning to compressed natural gas vehicles.

"We've made all this progress while keeping our costs below that of other peer city transit systems," Stitt said.

"We need to renew our existing funding in order to continue building the foundation upon which we can plan for and build the transit system our community needs for the future."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

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