Lucas County Commissioners have endorsed the Toledo Public Schools' 4.9-mill operating levy on the Nov. 6 ballot, while passing a resolution urging Sylvania Township voters to turn down a referendum to withdraw from the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority.
The county board voted unanimously today on both matters, with commissioners stating that strong public transportation is important to the Toledo area's overall strength and that the Toledo school district's funding request is buttressed by its recent restructuring efforts. The latter included consolidating elementary and junior high schools into neighborhood schools housing students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.
"There are many people that can't afford, or for whatever reason cannot drive, their own vehicle," Penny Levine, a Sylvania Township resident and occasional candidate for local public office, told the commissioners during a presentation about the TARTA matter. "If you call yourself a community, this is one of those aspects that form a community."
Pete Gerken, the commissioners' president, said he was particularly concerned that Sylvania Township has no plan to set up an alternative form of local transit if its voters opt out of TARTA.
"Are people just cast into the wind to fend for themselves?" he asked.
Opt-out resolutions are on the local ballots in both Sylvania Township and Spencer Township, although the transit authority sued the Lucas County Board of Elections last week to object to the Sylvania resolution, which excludes voters in the incorporated portion of the township -- Sylvania city -- from participating.
Perrysburg voters approved withdrawing from TARTA in March, and transit authority buses stopped running there Sept. 22. Since then, the city has paid a private company to provide rides for people with disabilities, and has a levy on the Nov. 6 ballot to fund a local transit operation that, if approved, would start Jan. 1.
The Toledo school levy would generate $13.3 million annually and would cost the owner of a $100,000 house $150.06 annually. It was endorsed last week by the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Greater Toledo, Boys' and Girls' Clubs of Toledo, and the YMCA/JCC of Greater Toledo.