TARTA petition hits roadblock
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Tuesday, 20 August 2013 09:43
ROSSFORD - A move to give Rossford voters a chance to decide whether or not to remain in TARTA has hit a roadblock.
Though Citizens Choice, the group that circulated the petition, thought they'd submitted their paperwork in ample time to meet statutory guidelines, it appears they did not do so.
Donald Montague, one of the three founding members, said the group submitted the petitions with 395 signatures to the city on July 26. That gave the city the needed 10 days it had to hold the petitions until they needed to be submitted to the county Board of Elections.
Montague said the members did not know about another period of up to 10 days that the Board of Elections had to certify the petitions.
During that period, said Terry Burton, director of the Board of Elections, officials made sure that petition had the required 275 valid signatures. Of those submitted, he said, 340 were valid.
The petitions were then returned to the city, and which in turn formally filed them with the county.
City Administrator Ed Ciecka said all this shuffling of paperwork was done by hand delivering the petitions and picking them up, so time wasn't lost in the mail.
The county then had the petitions in hand on Aug. 13.
At issue is whether the date submitted according to law is Aug. 6, which the Citizens Choice made, or Aug. 13, a week after the statutory deadline. That would determine whether it was placed on this year's general election ballot on Nov. 5, or the next in November, 2014.
That issue is now in the hands of County Prosecutor Paul Dobson.
Linda Holmes, an assistant county prosecutor in the civil division, said she was working on the determination and hopes the decision will be made by the end of the week.
Elections officials will wait until the prosecutor's office gives the go-ahead to put it on the November ballot.
"I find that to be an unlikely scenario," Burton said. He said his office "is not processing it at this point."
"It's in the prosecutor's hands to render a decision as to the placement," Montague said. If the referendum does not appear this year, TARTA will be a dead issue because the legislation, proposed by State Sen. Randy Gardner, to allow communities to leave the system expires at the end of the year.
The referendum was prompted by a vote by city council earlier this year to stay with the regional transit system. Those opposing that decision insisted that voters should have the right to make that decision.
Ciecka said the city did everything according to the city carter and state law, and facilitated the process by driving to Bowling Green with paperwork.
"I don't believe the Board of Elections or the city did anything wrong."