Two cities not sold on TARTA sales tax PDF Print E-mail
Written by By DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer   
Friday, 29 May 2009 12:12
City councils in Perrysburg and Rossford will be considering resolutions opposing a switch of funding for TARTA, the regional transportation authority from a property tax to a sales tax.
Rossford city council has asked to have a resolution drawn up expressing opposition to TARTA's proposal to replace its property tax levy with a sales tax.
Larry Oberdorf said that TARTA officials have told him that the 0.5-percent sales tax would generate more revenue than the 2.5-mill levy now in place.
However to do that, TARTA would have to encompass all of Lucas County, which means pulling in municipalities that are not now served by or paying for TARTA.
Maria Ermie, a member of Perrysburg council's Health, Sanitation and Public Utilities Committee said the committee has drafted a resolution that City Council will consider Tuesday. That resolution will direct the city's representative to vote "no" on the change to a sales tax.
Perrysburg officials, she said, are also considering hiring a consultant to develop a transportation plan for the city as well as considering putting a measure on the November ballot seeking residents' guidance about TARTA and transportation issues in the city.
At this week's council meeting in Rossford Oberdorf said he was told that a Rossford household would have to spend $16,000 on taxable goods, which exclude clothes and food, to be paying as much as it does now for a property valued at $100,000.
Councilman Jim Richards noted that because he bought a new car in the past year that alone would have had him paying more.
Richards questioned whether the hike in the sales tax would push business from stores in Rossford along U.S. 20 to those across the road in Perrysburg Township, which would not be affected by the tax.
"There are a variety of reasons I feel uncomfortable with the sales tax ordinance," he said, including that sales taxes tend to be "regressive," meaning the burden falls heavier on those with lower incomes.
Rossford Councilman Ken Hermes, who works for Pilkington Glass, said that the change from property to sales tax may benefit businesses. "Their profits may go up."
Councilman Chuck Duricek, who runs an automotive repair shop in the city, said he would expect with all the equipment, supplies and furnishings he buys he would be better off with the property tax.
Duricek also noted that property tax revenues within the Tax Incremental Financing district in the Crossroads area go into a special fund to pay for improvements within that district. That fund would suffer if the TARTA property tax was eliminated.
Hermes also said that city officials have been complaining about the property tax, and now they're complaining about the alternative. "What do we really want?"
City Administrator Ed Ciecka said that since TARTA needs the approval of all members municipalities to expand its area, this could open a window to allow communities such as Rossford and Perrysburg, who have long complained they don't receive adequate service for the amount they pay, to exit the system.
But Richards said the city shouldn't give up entirely on a public transit system. He said he plans to meet with Perrysburg officials to discuss a lower cost alternative to TARTA.
Ermie said that what Perrysburg is considering would be "Perrysburg-centric" but would link with other systems, including TARTA.
Rossford will also request a copy of the resolution that will be considered by Perrysburg, so that it can model its own on it.
TARTA is just one of several vexing regional issues facing Rossford.
Mayor Bill Verbosky confirmed that Rossford officials are part of discussions with Ottawa County to provide water. The city is now in a dispute with Toledo over increased rates and revenue sharing for the city's water.
Verbosky also said that a copy of a resolution passed by City Council regarding a proposal to locate a casino in Toledo has been delivered to Toledo.
Rossford officials want to be part of the discussion about the building a casino on property on the south side of the Maumee River, near the Pilkington property.
That property, Verbosky said, was originally slated for residential and light retail. Rossford is neither pro nor con casino, he said, officials just want to be included in any discussions.

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