Sylvania Township Trustees voted Tuesday night to place the option to withdraw from TARTA’s transportation service on the November election ballot.
Trustees Neal Mahoney and John Jennewine voted in favor of the referendum, with trustee Kevin Haddad abstaining.
Townships have the option of opting out of the service, by a majority vote in an election, according to a section of the Ohio Revised Code. TARTA, or the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, is the only Ohio transit authority that still collects a property tax for its local subsidy.
Mr. Haddad said there is an Aug. 9 deadline for submitting the resolution to the Lucas County Board of Elections for the Nov. 5 ballot.
He shared similar sentiments with audience members, some who felt like the vote was passed too quickly.
“They did promise the public they’d look at an alternate and there is no alternate,” Mr. Haddad said.
Worries about a lack of viable options, comments Tuesday night from seven residents who signed in to address the issue before the trustees were heated.
“You’re not planning on coming up with any sort of alternative transportation plan. How is that justice for your constituents that use TARTA and TARPS?” resident Deb Angel said. “That’s not justice for them.”
Trustee John Jennewine wanted residents to know that the decision made by the trustees was well thought out.
“We’re not tricking them. We’re not putting the cart in front of the horse,” he said. “At this point in time, we feel we are giving the residents enough information and enough time.”
“We support public transportation. We see the obstacles and the hurdles and we just don’t think we’re up to it on our own,” he said.
But Troy Stevenson, a Sylvania Township TARTA board trustee, wanted residents to know that although a surrounding community like Perrysburg opted out, it doesn’t mean that transportation is going away there.
In March, Perrysburg voters approved opting out of TARTA, and plan to place a property tax property proposal on the November ballot to fund an independent transit system. They also will be reviewing requested proposals from private transit companies next month.
“They’re not getting rid of public transportation, they’re re-engineering it,” he said.
The cities of Maumee and Rossford have also considered opting out of the service and looking for other public transportation options.
Jon Elston, director of transportation for TARTA, reminded residents that TARTA might still be the better option.
“There’s a misperception here that somehow private industry can do it for cheaper. I’m telling you, TARTA is running a tight ship over here. TARTA is in business to serve people and break even,” he said.
Looking toward Mr. Elston, trustee Neal Mahoney said, “I don’t think we could put a plan comparable to what you guys service. This has been tough.”
Mr. Haddad still wasn’t convinced.
“We have no plan in place and I think doing it now is wrong, but I understand where you’re coming from.”
“I’d like to see TARTA fold and a new phoenix rise from the ashes,” Mr. Haddad said.
Contact Kelly McLendon at: email@example.com or 419-206-0356.