Sunday, Jul 31, 2016
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Politics

Spencer Township residents decide to leave TARTA

Spencer Township voters narrowly approved withdrawing from Toledo’s transit-bus network Tuesday, a year after a larger turnout voted to stay in.

Curtis Lancaster, chairman of the township board of trustees, said he believed the withdrawal resolution’s passage — by 16 votes out of 520 cast, according to preliminary results — represents township voters’ true desire, because many voted “no” on the same resolution a year ago thinking that meant withdrawal from the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority.

Mr. Lancaster and James Gee, the transit authority’s general manager, both said they were unsure whether a recount would be mandatory.

RELATED CONTENT: Full election results

However, the trustee chairman said he did not think there were enough provisional ballots still to be counted to sway the outcome.

Barring such a reversal, Mr. Gee said TARTA service to the rural township, the transit authority’s least-populous member, will end Dec. 31.

“It was a very close vote, and we’re very disappointed,” Mr. Gee said. “There are a lot of people out there who depend on us to get to the doctor, or to the grocery store.”

Mr. Lancaster said he believes Spencer Township needs public transportation, but not a service subsidized with property taxes. He pledged to support any proposal to switch TARTA’s local tax to a sales tax, and in the interim said he will solicit quotes from local bus companies to provide a locally based service, as Perrysburg has done after withdrawing from the transit authority last year.

With township voters having approved a joint economic development district with Whitehouse, Mr. Lancaster said, funding should be available for a local bus service without needing a special tax.

Township trustees likely will take up the transit matter when they meet Thursday evening, Mr. Lancaster said.

TARTA collects two levies totaling 2.5 mills, which in Spencer produces about $88,000 in revenue to the authority.

TARTA’s remaining members are Sylvania, Sylvania Township, Maumee, Waterville, Ottawa Hills, Rossford, and Toledo.

Besides the TARTA and economic-development questions, Spencer voters approved renewal of a 2-mill, continuing fire levy but rejected an additional fire tax, also of two mills.

In neighboring Springfield Township, voters passed a 4.4-mill, five-year fire levy that includes renewal of a 1.3-mill existing tax plus 3.1 mills of additional tax.

Fire levies also passed in Swanton (2 mills, of which 1.5 mills was existing) and Providence Township (2.5-mill, five-year renewal), while returns from Richfield Township, which had a 2.5-mill, three-year fire-levy renewal on the ballot, were not available at press time.

Swanton voters also easily approved renewal of an 0.5-mill, five-year levy for parks, while Washington Township strongly approved renewal of a 2.5-mill, five-year levy for roads.

Waterville Township voters passed a new 3.5-mill, continuing levy for police operations.

In Harbor View, voters renewed a 5-mill, five-year levy for current expenses.

Rossford voters turned down separate city charter amendments to increase compensation for city council and the mayor so that they would fully qualify for pensions under Ohio’s Public Employees Retirement System.

Council pay would have risen to $700 annually from its current $250, or $275 for the council president, while the mayor's salary would have risen from $625 to $1,500.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.

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