Oregon Mayor Marge Brown and some members of city council last Monday said they were against a proposal to expand the TARTA bus system for all of Lucas County that would be funded by a sales tax instead of the current property tax,
A study from a consultant hired by TARTA recommended in February that a half-cent sales tax would provide service expansion and financial stability to Lucas County, including Oregon.
Oregon has repeatedly resisted efforts by TARTA for bus service in the past.
Brown said a group of mayors from Perrysburg, Maumee, Oregon and Sylvania met over a year and a half as a result of Perrysburg’s desire to leave TARTA. The group will meet again at the end of this month.
“If all the other areas pass this half-cent sales tax, then guess what? We have TARTA,” Brown said to council at a meeting April 6.
Brown has been telling James Gee, TARTA’s general manager, that Oregon does not want the bus service, she said.
“TARTA is useless in the city of Oregon - totally,” Brown said she told Gee. “It might benefit the areas on the west, which are heavily populated.”
She asked council members for their thoughts on the matter before the group of mayors meets again on Tuesday, April 28.
“I will be going off to the senior center to present these issues. I will probably be taking Jim Gee with me so he can explain it all. How does Oregon council feel about this transition with TARTA?”
Administrator Ken Filipiak said the city has spent considerable time meeting with TARTA board members and administrative staff last summer to give Oregon’s impressions about the value of TARTA in the city “and the minimum utility it could provide compared to the cost associated with that.”
“We indicated at that time that there’s strong, strong sentiment against that,” said Filipiak. “That has been reflected in the past through proposals both on the ballot and the reluctance to place it on the ballot further. So I think they clearly understand that TARTA isn’t something that Oregon willingly wants. We also said that the proposal to institute a half penny additional sales tax is ridiculous, coming at just the wrong time in this area. Seven and a quarter percent sales tax would be equal to the highest in the state of Ohio. It isn’t exactly the easiest task in the world to try and get new retail and commercial development in northwest Ohio, particularly in the Toledo-Oregon area right now. Unless members feel otherwise, that would be our position at this point.”
Councilman Mike Seferian was also opposed.
“Any consideration for any part of TARTA - just no. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
Councilman Bill Myers agreed.
“I just don’t see how that’s a big plus for us,” he said.
Councilman Jerry Peach noted Perrysburg’s unsuccessful attempts to get out of TARTA as one of the reasons he was against TARTA in Oregon.
“Whether it’s through a property tax being proposed, or through a sales tax, I think it remains that the Perrysburg experience with TARTA is not one that Oregon ought to repeat. Their experience has been instructive,” said Peach. “I would recommend to the mayor and city administrator that they make sure that those at TMACOG and any state legislators, who might approve a revision of state law allowing Lucas County to impose a sales tax for the support of TARTA, know that this council is opposed to transferring that burden to the people of Oregon.”