Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer
Saturday, 06 April 2013 07:31
PERRYSBURG - With about a month to go before the May 7 election, campaign efforts are ramping up to get a public transit levy passed in the city.
"We've got a lot of stuff going on right now," said Jack Hoeflinger, chair of Go Perrysburg, formerly Perrysburg 4 Transit. The committee, with more than 30 members, has begun meeting on a weekly basis and is mobilizing on a number of fronts to drum up support for the levy.
The five-year, 0.8-mill transit levy on next month's ballot would raise just under $460,000 per year, costing the owner of a $200,000 home about $4 each month.
The money would be used to resurrect public transportation in Perrysburg, creating a system offering call-a-ride, ADA paratransit, and a limited commuter service to residents.
If the levy passes, transit is expected to start up almost immediately; though tax monies would not come into city coffers until 2014, there is a plan to begin service and repay city monies spent on transit in the meantime with levy funds.
Perrysburg has been without public transportation since November, when a 1.45-mill transit levy failed by fewer than 200 votes. The loss ended a fledgling system, dubbed "Perrysburg Transit," run by St. Louis-based Ride Right LLC during the early fall.
Since then, former transit riders have been attempting to get by as best as they can, including through the use of an informal, and temporary, neighbors-helping-neighbors system.
Go Perrysburg's efforts took off in March, when they began canvassing residents, first focusing on voters most likely to send in their ballots by mail.
"The response for that was pretty good," said Hoeflinger. "It was overwhelmingly positive."
"So we've put as many feet on the street as we could." Further canvassing was planned for Saturday, and also April 20 and May 4, with hopes of reaching out to 2,600 voters. One informational postcard has been mailed, with two more planned, and a series of 24 "mini billboards" are being distributed.
Go Perrysburg has further done outreach work with local senior centers, and plans more.
"We're working on election day transportation," Hoeflinger said, to "see that anyone who needs transportation to the polls will get it."
"Overall, I think the (Go Perrysburg) committee is 100 times more active this time around, and more organized than the first time," said Councilman Todd Grayson, a committee member who has spearheaded City Council's public transportation efforts in recent years.
"Go Perrysburg, is, I think, doing a much better job marketing the information, sharing with the people the significance and importance of (the levy)."
Grayson said a key component is that the city has realized Perrysburg doesn't require a large transit service with expensive offerings.
"I think we've done a good job of taking the reduced funding," and working with less, he said.
"And we've planned it with less. So we've got a lower millage that I think is really, really focused on the problem, the challenge of transportation in Perrysburg. And the taxpayers, in my mind, you vote for this you're getting a fantastic bang for your buck. I wouldn't change anything at this point. Over the last few months, we've done all that we possibly can."