BENWOOD - Benwood residents decided Tuesday to approve an Ohio Valley Regional Transportation bus service tax levy for one year.
McMechen voters did the same, but for a regular term of three years.
In West Virginia, excess tax levies, such as the OVRTA levies, require a supermajority, or 60 percent plus 1, to pass.
In a 262 to 58 decision, Benwood voters approved their levy. And in a 342 to 56 vote, McMechen residents also OK'd their levy, according to unofficial vote totals.
Benwood residents nearly didn't have the chance to vote on renewing their levy after City Council initially decided not to place it on the ballot. Council members were upset because the OVRTA board previously decreased Benwood's service to help fund trial levies to Moundsville and The Highlands. Stops in Benwood were reduced to once every hour, rather than once every 30 minutes.
However, after hearing from residents who said they wanted to vote on the matter, council changed its stance. But instead of opting for another three-year levy, council decided to only place a one-year renewal on the ballot. That way, if OVRTA decides to change service again, Benwood residents could decide more quickly on whether to renew service again.
Had Benwood opted not to renew a one-year levy, service would have stopped in June, which is when its current levy is set to expire.
Benwood Mayor Ed Kuca, who also serves as an OVRTA board member, previously said he hoped residents would approve the levy, as the bus service helps them and Benwood businesses.
"It gives people an opportunity to go to our businesses Some people don't have other transportation, and we ought to offer that. ... It's been there forever," Kuca said.