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Published: Wednesday, 9/4/2013

Rossford too late for TARTA ballot issue

Aug. 7 deadline for Nov. election missed

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It seems Rossford voters will not be going to the polls in November to decide if their city should remain a member of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority.

The Wood County Prosecutor’s Office issued an opinion Tuesday that the city of Rossford did not meet an Aug. 7 deadline for the Nov. 5 election. The city was hampered by the short time frame it had to work within.

The ad hoc group Citizens for Choice collected 392 signatures on its petition to withdraw from TARTA, and submitted them to the city on July 26. As required by state law, Rossford officials held the signatures for 10 days for public inspection, then forwarded them to the county board of elections on Aug. 6 for certification.

The elections board deemed 340 of the signatures to be valid, in excess of the required 275, and returned the petitions to the city to be examined before they were to be returned to the board. The board returned the petitions to the city Aug. 12, and Rossford delivered them back to the board the next day, with instructions that the issue be put on the ballot of the next available general election, according to the opinion.

The opinion, signed by Prosecutor Paul Dobson and Assistant Prosecutor Linda Holmes, concludes the issue cannot be put on the November, 2013, ballot because of the missed deadline.By law, the certification deadline with the board has to be done a minimum of 90 days before an election.

Whether it can appear on the general election ballot next year will be addressed in a follow-up opinion. But a vote next year would be purely symbolic because special state legislation permitting members of TARTA to exit the transit authority without the unanimous permission of other member communities sets an end-of-the-year deadline for deciding.

Citizens Choice secretary Bob Densic said his group would examine its options.

Perrysburg has been the only community to withdraw from TARTA and go with a private service. Sylvania and Spencer townships rejected referendums last year.

Rossford City Council voted 5-2 in June to stay in TARTA.

Rossford property taxpayers send TARTA $305,000 annually through a 2.25-mill levy. An outside transit consultant for the city found that Rossford was getting its TARTA service at below cost.



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