Amid lingering dismay from riders over the discontinuation of TARTA service, Perrysburg City Council on Tuesday adopted a stop-gap measure for paratransit service while voters consider a levy to hire a new provider.
The city will contract with Ride Right LLC of St. Louis to transport riders with disabilities within the city from when Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority service ends Sept. 22 through Nov. 11, a few days after the general election, at a cost of about $56,000.
Council voted 5-1 to approve the resolution, which was recommended by the finance committee on a 3-0 vote earlier in the evening. Council President Joseph Lawless was absent and Councilman J. Todd Grayson voted no.
Several councilmen and city officials said this was the best deal they could broker given the time frame and available funds. Perrysburg opted out of TARTA after the decision was put before voters in March.
“It isn’t a perfect solution ... this is what we could get,” Councilman Thomas Mackin said.
The city placed a 1.45-mill, five-year levy on the Nov. 6 ballot that if passed, would pay for the hiring of Ride Right to operate Perrysburg’s proposed transit system. The cost for the year 2013, effective Jan 1 is estimated at $530,936.
Tuesday night’s action approved payment to the firm of an initial fee of $15,878 and then $64.54 per service hour for the interim period.
Funds would be drawn from the municipal development fund and not from income tax or property tax, Mayor Nelson Evans said. That line item in the general fund comes from rent the city collects on about 10 properties it owns, including the childhood home of Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
Mr. Grayson said after the meeting that he voted against the resolution because he was opposed to using general funds for transportation.
While the hope of council is that the levy would pass and fund full transportation service, during the interim period Ride Right will provide paratransit service within Perrysburg and on a fixed route connect riders into the TARTA system at the Maumee Municipal Building and the Rossford Meijer. with two pick-up/drop-off locations within the city.
Some people at the meeting said a Call-a-Ride service would be a better solution
“That’s totally wrong,” said resident Gil Lutz, who is assisted by a seeing-eye dog, after hearing council’s proposal.
Mr. Grayson countered that the city was limited in what it could provide until a levy would generate more funding.
“The money for the miracle system you suggest doesn’t exist,” he said.
Mayor Evans said the city would address the need for on-call service if Ride Right is hired and doesn’t already offer the service.
Paratransit only within Perrysburg would not meet the needs of those who travel between the city and some communities, others complained.
“I am not able to have access to visiting Perrysburg come the 23rd,” said Ernie Brancheau, of Toledo, who uses a wheelchair and who depends on public transportation to get to his aquatic therapy appointments and volunteer commitments.
Mr. Brancheau said it was just another way of telling people who live in Toledo to stay in Toledo.
“I can’t believe this is actually happening in modern days,” he said.
Friction stemming from the years-long battle between the city and the regional transit authority remained evident.
“I’ve been amazed and dismayed at the stunning arrogance of TARTA that put us where we are today,” Councilman Michael Olmstead said.
Mr. Olmstead said he would not stand for criticism of council’s efforts to resolve the issue when Perrysburg voters rejected putting their tax dollars toward the bus service.
“We heard what Ride Right offered and we heard crickets from TARTA,” he said.
A TARTA board member who attended the meeting said it was the city’s fault that they were scrambling to provide paratransit services.
“You all shut the door on us,” Trustee Deb Angel said. She added that "we bear no responsibility to bail" you out now.
Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at: 419-356-8786 or firstname.lastname@example.org.