Perrysburg council discusses transit detour

Council president Joseph Lawless, right, reads minutes from the recreation committee at Tuesday's city council meeting as clerk David Creps looks on.
Council president Joseph Lawless, right, reads minutes from the recreation committee at Tuesday's city council meeting as clerk David Creps looks on.

Perrysburg City Council today considered plotting a detour in its journey to provide public transportation for people with disabilities, although there was hesitation to circumvent the will of the voters.

Paratransit service will end Nov. 27, which is when the Wood County Board of Elections will certify the Nov. 6 ballot, according to city administrator Bridgette Kabat.

She said there were 308 provisional ballots to be counted, but they were unlikely to change the outcome of the narrow defeat of the 1.45-mill, five-year levy that would have hired Ride Right, of St. Louis, to operate Perrysburg's proposed transit system.

Ride Right has been providing interim call-a-ride service since TARTA service ended Sept. 22, a result of residents voting to withdraw from the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority in March.

Councilman J. Todd Grayson, chair of the Health, Safety, and Public Utilities Committee, said that group meets Nov. 27 and will examine its options, which might include a revised millage levy on the May ballot and drawing from the municipal development fund to extend services.

Mr. Grayson said using general fund money was a "toxic" option. "Any plan B involves money that doesn't exist. ... We can't fix anything without money," he said.

He said a future millage could be calculated to pay back any money drawn from the fund.

Councilman Timothy McCarthy said he would support drawing from the fund to provide paratransit service now because some voters might have been confused about the transportation tax and others just now were becoming more acquainted with the issue.

"I think we ought to extend service until mid-December," he said.

Other council members expressed reservations about funding a service that the voters had rejected.

"I would be opposed to telling the taxpayer they were wrong ... and then taking their tax money to pay for something they voted down," said council president Joseph Lawless.

Councilman Maria Ermie said that while there were unique circumstances surrounding the levy issue, including a large tax for the school district on the same ballot, council needed to heed the no vote.

"How do we read what the voters are trying to tell us?" she said.

Councilman Thomas Mackin said the Health, Safety, and Public Utilities Committee needed to outline specific recommendations and expected results, communicating clear messages to voters.

He said he had hoped the issues of withdrawing from TARTA and a replacement service could have been on the same ballot, and that a more concrete contingency plan had been put in place, but that "second-guessing or analyzing what happened isn't going to fix the problem."

"Let's do it right this time," he said.

Coucilman Michael Olmstead, who opposes drawing from general funds to provide paratransit service, took umbrage with any blame of the levy's failure being laid at council's feet.

"Council did exactly what it should have done, which is give the voters of Perrysburg the right to choose," he said.

Ms. Kabat said Ride Right was willing to discuss future options and that the firm would be able to provide data it had collected the past two months on what kind of service was needed in the city.

She said Ride Right had proposed a lower fee of $52.74 per service hour through May 30, 2013. The current rate is $64.54, and about $18,500 had been paid for the month of October, she said.

Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at 419-356-8786,, or on Twitter @RebeccaConklinK.