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Published: Tuesday, 7/26/2011

Sylvania Twp. trustees look at public transportation options


The Sylvania Township trustees could vote as early as Aug. 2 to put a TARTA pullout referendum on the local Nov. 8 ballot.

During a 20-minute discussion Tuesday, Trustee Kevin Haddad presented a summary of a service proposal he said he had received from TLC Transportation, of Laskey Road in Toledo, that would cost the township an estimated $733,750 per year to operate, or only slightly more than a third of what township residents now pay to the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority in property taxes.

Mr. Haddad said that price would provide for five buses circulating through the township for 12 hours per day each, six days per week. The buses, with 15 seats and two wheelchair tie-downs, would cost the township $70,000 each, according to the proposal.

“That way, I know we’re not going to be wasting money, like all the TARTA buses I see driving around town empty,” Mr. Haddad said after describing the vehicles.

But while John Jennewine, the trustees’ chairman, was supportive of pulling the township out of TARTA, he said putting such a referendum on the ballot this fall could be rushing the question.

“I would be a lot more comfortable putting in on the primary [ballot next spring],” Mr. Jennewine said. “That would give us time to work out the details.”

Such details would include developing a plan for a local levy to pay for such a service and then explaining the plan to the public, he said.

Under a provision inserted into Ohio’s biennial budget bill this year, TARTA member communities have until Nov. 5, 2013 to conduct referenda on their transit authority memberships. The provision was introduced by State Rep. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) at the behest of Perrysburg, which for years has protested the level of benefit its residents receive for the taxes they pay the authority.

Once any such referendum passes and the results are certified, the transit authority would continue to provide service in a withdrawing community for six months, although such service could continue afterward under contract.

Besides Sylvania Township and Perrysburg, TARTA members include Toledo, Sylvania, Ottawa Hills, Maumee, Spencer Township, Waterville, and Rossford.

The trustees might make a decision whether to put the issue on the ballot at their next meeting on Aug. 2.

The TLC service proposal that Mr. Haddad outlined assumes $10 per hour wages for bus drivers, $80,000 in annual fuel expenses, and $195,000 in annual management fees to the company.

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