Perrysburg transit hits end of road
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 09:58
PERRYSBURG - Transit service in the city - for the time being - will come to an end Nov. 27.
City Administrator Bridgette Kabat confirmed the date Tuesday evening as council members chewed over the transit issue at their regular meeting.
With the defeat of a 1.45-mill levy on the Nov. 6 ballot, public transportation, provided by St. Louis-based Ride Right since Sept. 23, can no longer be funded. The end date of Nov. 27 is in accordance with an agreement with Ride Right, which stated the service would cease, in the event of a levy defeat, when the election results were officially certified by the Wood County Board of Elections.
The levy lost by fewer than 200 votes in the election. There were approximately 308 outstanding provisional ballots yet to be counted, but it was not expected that those would change the vote appreciably.
The cost of the transit service, currently being paid for out of a city budget line-item, is about $18,500 per month, or about $64 per service hour. The levy would have raised approximately $825,000, but it was expected that only about $500,000 of that money would be used, and the rest returned.
Under TARTA, residents were paying nearly $1.3 million annually in property tax assessments to that regional transit authority.
Council's Health, Sanitation and Public Utilities committee is to meet Tuesday and plans to discuss the matter in more detail. At some point it hopes to utilize data from Ride Right regarding how many service hours are needed for transit in Perrysburg, and where service was most popular so that a new millage could be calculated for if and when the matter goes before voters again in May. It was originally supposed that the matter could go on a March ballot, until it was learned that there will be no election in March.
HSPU Chair Todd Grayson noted he expects the requested millage could drop by a quarter of a mill or more. The 1.45-mill amount was arrived at, he said, to help provide a financial buffer.
The levy's defeat has been blamed on confusion and lack of clarity as to what the voters believed they were voting on and what kind of service they thought they were approving. Some reportedly thought they were being asked to approve an additional transit service, and thought that ADA service would continue whether the levy succeeded or not.
The transit issue remains a controversial one. Prior to the meeting, an audience member circulated photocopies of a recent media commentary on the levy's failure.
Councilman Tom Mackin asked the HSPU committee, in its upcoming deliberations, to forge a clear path for taxpayers.
"We've ended service," he said. "People are impacted. I guess my only request of the HSPU committee is that it doesn't over-promise and they have clear references" for what the committee wants and "sends clear messages as to what we're doing and how we're going to do it."
Kabat, following discussion prompted by Tim McCarthy late in the meeting, noted that a discussion might be had with Ride Right to see if service could be extended to December. However, the question remains as to how any extension would be paid for.
Mackin again reiterated that mixed messages need to be avoided if the matter goes on the ballot next spring.
"If we do put it back on, it would be my suggestion that it's not the same service. That it's a lesser amount, that it's more targeted."
"Let's do it right this time," he said.
"Nothing is perfect," argued Councilman Mike Olmstead, taking issue with what he called the perception that council has erred in their handling of the transit issue.
"At the end of the day, we're seven elected people," he said later.
"Council did exactly what it should have done in giving the citizens of Perrysburg the right to choose."
In other business, council:
• Unanimously approved increases in the hourly rates for eight classifications of part-pay firefighters. The rates now range from $25.32 for the first two hours, and $12.66 for each additional hour of service, for a captain, to $16.88 and $8.44 for pikers.
• Went into executive session to discuss personnel matters.
Member John Kevern was absent from the meeting.