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Voters in Spencer and Sylvania townships turned down referendums to withdraw from the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority at the polls on Tuesday, while Perrysburg, which had already pulled out, rejected a levy to pay for a local bus service.
The transit authority withdrawal questions in both townships failed by more than 18 percent, according to unofficial results.
“Voters understand that there are residents who need and use public transportation,” James Gee, TARTA’s general manager, said late Tuesday. “Having strong public transit helps having a strong community.”
But Perrysburg, which in March voted to withdraw from the transit authority, narrowly defeated a local 1.45-mill property tax to pay for a local service to substitute for TARTA.
City officials tentatively had chosen a contractor, Ride Right of Lake St. Louis, Mo., and provided limited bus service within Perrysburg since TARTA’s service ceased Sept. 22. Ride Right’s interim contract is set to expire Sunday.
Neither City Administrator Bridgette Kabat nor Mayor Nelson Evans could be reached for comment late Tuesday. Mr. Gee declined to comment on Perrysburg’s outcome.
The withdrawal votes were conducted in accordance with an Ohio law passed last year that allows members of transit authorities funded by a property tax to hold opt-out votes no later than Nov. 5, 2013 — next year’s Election Day. TARTA is the only major Ohio transit authority still funded by a property tax.
Neither Sylvania nor Spencer township had proposed an alternative to replace TARTA if voters opted out.
John Jennewine, chairman of the Sylvania Township trustees who had advanced the issue on the grounds that taxpayers deserved a chance to vote, said Tuesday night he considers their decision final.
“It’s a multistep process,” he said. “I’m glad we didn’t expend too much energy on developing an alternative plan. To me, the issue is resolved.”
Spencer Township’s trustees had voted twice during the 1990s to leave the transit authority, but other member communities vetoed the withdrawal both times under the unanimous-consent provision that will go back in force after next year’s general election.
Spencer is the transit authority’s smallest member, contributing just $87,323 in property tax to the agency’s budget, while Sylvania is one of the largest, with an annual tax bill to property owners of about $1.28 million. The transit authority collects two property levies that combine for 2.5 mills.
Mr. Gee said it is too soon to discuss whether the transit authority might revive a proposal to switch to a sales tax for its local subsidy, which would require adding Lucas County as an agency member. In 2010, Sylvania Township and Maumee leaders turned down county membership because of dissatisfaction with the accompanying half-cent sales tax.
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