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Published: Wednesday, 12/10/2008

Perrysburg poised to decide on TARTA

BY BRIDGET THARP
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Perrysburg City Council soon will decide whether to ask voters if it should continue efforts to withdraw from TARTA service, but it remains unclear how officials will keep a promise to provide public transit without the regional bus service.

The City Council introduced a resolution last week that would ask voters in November whether to continue shelling out $1.3 million in property taxes for TARTA service.

Discussions about creating their own transit service began among council members after hearing from riders living in the city at a public hearing in October.

"The citizens' concern was if TARTA's not here, what are we going to use?" Mayor Evans said.

Regardless of voter feedback, the TARTA board is not likely to offer Perrysburg an easy out. State law dictates that a community may leave a regional transportation pact only with the unanimous nod of other members.

TARTA General Manager James Gee did not attend the meeting, but said Perrysburg's proposed secession would hurt regional mobility.

"People who live in Perrysburg can get to work or get to medical appointments in other areas and people in other areas can get to shopping and doctors in Perrysburg," Mr. Gee said. "We want to be sure we do our best to maintain that connectivity."

Mr. Gee also told The Blade he has warned Perrysburg's council that the city may not qualify for grant funding to create its own transit program.

Not so, according to Scott Potter, who as owner of Black and White Transportation is a contractor for Bowling Green's grant-funded transit service, BG Transit. His drivers are dispatched to operate the city's handicapped-accessible vehicles, he told The Blade.

Councilman Tim McCarthy said last week that he worries the resolution doesn't spell out what action would be taken after the vote, including how alternative public transit wouldbe funded.

"I'm not clear on how this would work," Mr. McCarthy said.

Council President Joe Lawless said such issues could be addressed later in another resolution.

Also at the meeting, the city introduced a $30.7 million budget for next year.

The city will spend $636,230 on new staff and major purchases, the document showed.

Staff positions added will include:

•Full-time income tax staffer to be paid $70,000

• Economic development specialist to be paid $30,000

• A new police officer to be paid $45,698

•A half-year of pay for another new police officer to be paid $22,849

•Two new firefighters to be paid a combined salary of $94,170

•A year-round part-time intern to be paid $7,700

•A new full-time secretary in the street department to be paid $36,240

In other business, City Administrator John Alexander noted the shortage of salt for icy city streets. The city has about 2,700 tons of salt stocked, and already has used 225 tons, he said.

"This is going to be a different year and we are salting in a different manner," Mr. Alexander said, adding that only school zones, intersections, and curb-to-curb main streets would be salted.



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