Perrysburg passes transit PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 08 May 2013 09:10
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Chris Vogel and Rachel Johnson celebrate after reviewing the election results Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
PERRYSBURG - A lower millage. A reduced service plan. And, finally, a more visible and dynamic marketing campaign.
All of these elements helped spur public transportation in the city to a decisive victory.
The five-year, 0.8-mill transit levy found its audience Tuesday, winning with nearly than 72 percent of the vote according to unofficial figures.
"The committee was really energized and everybody worked very hard," said Jack Hoeflinger, chairman of Go Perrysburg, a group advocating for the levy.
The levy will fund a public transportation service offering call-a-ride, ADA paratransit, and a limited commuter service. It will raise about $460,000 a year, and cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $4 each month.
City officials have already re-opened talks with St. Louis-based transit firm Ride Right to get the service underway in the city within 60 days.
"I think one of the big factors is we got the message out this time, and we got it out pretty clearly," said Hoeflinger.
The road has been a rocky one for public transportation in the city. After TARTA left Perrysburg in September of last year following a successful March vote to oust the transit authority, Ride Right contracted with the city to offer "gap" service, anticipating the passage of a 1.45-mill transit levy that November.
However, despite efforts by city officials and Go Perrysburg (then called Perrysburg-4-Transit) the measure lost by fewer than 200 votes. The failure was blamed on everything from confusing ballot language to a misunderstanding of what kind of service was being voted on. Ride Right's service came to a close at the end of November.
After that levy was defeated, there was immediate discussion of another try. However, some suggested the will of the people had spoken, and another measure should not be placed on the ballot. The millage to be sought was reformulated and approved by council; a new, abbreviated list of transit services was formalized; and a more active Go Perrysburg hit the streets to promote the measure. In the meantime, those without rides had to fend for themselves, or took part in a Neighbors-Helping-Neighbors ride program sponsored in part by the organization.
"And of course you can't discount the ground game," Hoeflinger said of the election efforts. "We had five canvassings, and we pounded on a lot of doors. And that looked favorable all the way."
Signs, mailings, and improved access to needed data also proved decisive.
"The other thing, we had a lot of media coverage. Media coverage has been terrific."
"I think the next step," said Hoeflinger, Is probably obvious, we get the city moving to get the program up and running. We've got to mobilize the vehicle to get the program up and going. It's going to take a little bit of time, but I know they're going to move as quickly as they possibly can."
He said that Go Perrysburg will also work to see if the Neighbors-Helping-Neighbors program can continue.
"We had a very good relationship with city council," said Hoeflinger. "They understood what their mission was, we understood what our mission was, and it worked very well."
 

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