Thursday, Jun 30, 2016
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Sylvania council weighs transportation options

A Sylvania City Council committee today discussed its future with public transportation and whether TARTA would be the company to continue providing that service, but did not come up with an answer after a 90-minute committee hearing.

Mark Luetke, chairman of council’s Employee & Community Relations Committee, said another meeting would be scheduled before the end of the month to discuss whether to put a referendum on the ballot to opt out of service with the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority.

Tom Ramsdell, a TARTA board of trustees member and also a committee representative for the company who attended to answer questions about TARTA, said that the city of Perrysburg, which recently deciding to withdraw from the service, paid in about $200,000 more than the services they received, Sylvania’s financial situation is different.

Sylvania, he said, paid $905,000 in taxes in 2010 and the services the community received amounted to $1.2 million.

“Sylvania’s actually a recipient community member,” Mr. Ramsdell said.

TARTA is the last Ohio transit authority to receive local funding through a property tax. It collects two levies, totaling 2.5 mills, in its nine member communities that generate about $16.7 million in annual revenue.

Council member Mary Westphal was concerned about other communities backing out.

“If two or three more communities opt out, it compromises our ability to stay in,” she said, citing a likely ‘snowball’ effect.

Mr. Ramsdell said that if two or three more communities dropped out, TARTA might still survive.

Black & White Cab Company co-owner Scott Potter told council that he was been contacted by Perrysburg, Rossford, Ottawa Hills and Sylvania Township to help with alternative service.

“I’m not the solution,” Mr. Potter said. “You have to have public transportation, but not like this,” he said, referring to TARTA.

Council member V. Michael Brown said the discussion’s focus should be brought back to a place where it mattered.

“We’re talking about public transportation,” Mr. Brown said. “No one’s really talked about quality of life. Public transportation adds to quality of life in the community.”

A handful of residents who attended the meeting were most concerned about the people who would be impacted if the city were to opt-out of the service.

“We’ve taken an attitude of since I don’t use it, lose it,” resident Penny Levine said to committee members. “I think you need to speak to those who utilize the system. To work this out is essential.”

Other residents who spoke at the meeting urged council to establish a plan before moving ahead and leaving people stranded.

Contact Kelly McLendon at:

kmclendon@theblade.com

or 419-206-0356.

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