Amendment on TARTA proceeds

A TARTA Voter’s Rights Amendment is now part of the state budget.
The House of Representatives will vote on the budget next week, according to Rep. Randy Gardner,
R-Bowling Green, who introduced the TARTA legislation.
The amendment allows TARTA members, such as Perrysburg and Rossford, to ask voters if their community
should continue with the transportation membership.
"The most important thing … is the right to vote," Gardner said.
If approved, the budget, along with the TARTA amendment, moves on to the Senate, then Gov. John Kasich
for his signature, which will probably happen in July.
Substitute House Bill 153 contains a regional transportation pilot provision written after five years of
community discussions in Wood and Lucas counties.
Recent changes to the amendment have been made following consultation with the leadership of the Toledo
Area Regional Transit Authority.
The TARTA Voter’s Rights Amendment has three provisions:
¥ Allows communities not currently a member to join TARTA for a three-year period. About 70,000 residents
in Lucas County are today not served by TARTA. This new option may serve to encourage an expansion of
TARTA services in Lucas County.
¥ Provides TARTA members the freedom to place on the ballot the question as to whether their community
should continue membership. Currently, cities, villages and townships do not have this right.
¥ Expressly authorizes communities which withdraw from TARTA to contract with TARTA or other entities for
transportation services. This could include TARPS, services for the disabled, or the elderly and any
citizens in need of public transportation.
"Fundamentally, we believe elected officials in our TARTA member communities should have the freedom
to ask the people they serve whether continued membership and taxation in TARTA is the best way to
provide transportation services in their communities," Gardner said in an e-mail.
A bipartisan list of local government officials in Wood and Lucas counties have supported TARTA voter’s
rights for many years, he said. They believe there may be other options that could yield lower property
taxes and improved transportation services.
In addition, the new opt-in provision may expand TARTA services to more communities and more people in
need.
Gardner worked on the legislation with Rep. Barbara Sears of Sylvania.
He has tried twice in the past to change TARTA’s membership rules.
Currently, TARTA members can only be released with the unanimous approval of all nine member communities.
Perrysburg and Rossford are the only Wood County communities with TARTA membership.