City Council Tables Five Percent Bus Levy

Benwood City Council on Tuesday tabled a 5 percent bus transportation levy set to go before voters in the May 13 primary election.

The Ohio Valley Regional Transportation Authority has requested Benwood and other local communities pass a 15 percent levy to pay for bus services in their communities.

But Benwood City Council members believed that amount to be too high, and at a Jan. 14 meeting passed a motion to put a levy of just 5 percent before voters.

Last week, members of the OVRTA board told Mayor Ed Kuca bus runs to Benwood could be reduced if the city doesn’t contribute an additional 15 percent to OVRTA.

On Tuesday, Benwood council members discussed the matter privately in executive session for 15 minutes before deciding to table their levy.

“We need more discussion on this because city officials feel this is what residents can afford – 5 percent,” Kuca said following the meeting. “And they do not want our services cut just because we can not afford 15 percent. (That figure) is based on the assumption the federal government will cut some of the federal aid they give to transportation systems. We don’t know for sure … the money may not even be needed.”

Kuca said a Benwood bus levy could appear on the general election ballot in November.

Benwood typically pays about $100,000 annually to OVRTA, and a 15 percent increase – after figuring an additional 10 percent increase in local property values in Benwood – would bring the city’s cost to about $132,000 a year, according to City Solicitor Eric Gordon.

In other matters, council approved the purchase of two tools needed for waterline repairs in the city. Public Works Coordinator John Howard set the cost for a pipe cutter at $2,770 and for a concrete saw at $2,400.