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Published: Thursday, 1/3/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Perrysburg to put 0.8 mill transit tax before voters; Levy would fund limited service

BY REBECCA CONKLIN KLEIBOEMER
BADE STAFF WRITER
Perrysburg City Council president Joseph Lawless, left, speaks with councilman J. Todd Grayson prior to Wednesday's council meeting. Perrysburg City Council president Joseph Lawless, left, speaks with councilman J. Todd Grayson prior to Wednesday's council meeting.
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Perrysburg voters again will decide whether to fund the city's own public transportation system, this time at a significantly reduced millage for a trimmed service.

City council Wednesday night unanimously approved putting an 0.8-mill, five-year levy on the May ballot.

It would raise an estimated $460,000 a year to pay Ride Right of Lake St. Louis, Mo., to operate two vehicles, one for call-a-ride and one for a fixed route. Both vehicles would serve handicapped riders.

“We can pick up someone who is disabled along with someone who isn’t, and it’s far more efficient that way,” councilman Marie Ermie said.

Council members said the reduced amount would increase the chance of the levy being passed, while still providing the service that residents needed.

“We’re lean here, but we’re not hitting bone,“ Councilman J. Todd Grayson said.

A 1.45-mill tax was narrowly defeated on the Nov. 6 ballot, falling by 183 votes out of more than 11,600 ballots cast. That tax would have funded three Ride Right vehicles for a call-a-ride, a fixed route, and a separate paratransit service.

The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority ceased service in Perrysburg in September after voters passed a referendum in March to withdraw from that agency.

Members were concerned that the service now proposed is inadequate and suggested the failed levy could have passed with better explanation that the service would include more than just paratransit, Ms. Russell said.

“Our feeling is that 1 mill is not too much to ask for,” said Carol Russell, president of the Perrysburg chapter of the League of Women Voters.

According to data collected by Ride Right during an interim period between TARTA service ending and the November election, Perrysburg needed only two vehicles to accommodate most riders, Mr. Grayson said.

“I want people who need it to have it,” he said, adding that expanded services to satisfy everyone would cost taxpayers too much.

Councilman Thomas Mackin said some people during the interim period have used other transportation services, and that ridership may increase once the city has a permanent system.

“This anticipates some additional growth,” he said of the service put forth in the 0.8-mill levy.

Collection of the tax would not start until next year, but the levy would include revenue to set aside so the city could fund a service start-up immediately if it passes.

Service is expected to cost about $240,000 for the rest of 2013, $420,000 for 2014, and 5 percent annual increases after that through 2017.

Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at: rconklin@theblade.com or 419-356-8786 or on Twitter @RebeccaConklinK.



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