BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) is again asking Maumee City Council to place a proposal on the November ballot that would switch funding from property tax revenue to a sales tax mechanism.
It’s the second time the transit system is making the request, although this time, the system is seeking a .04-percent sales tax increase. In order to appear on the November 6 ballot, all seven TARTA member communities’ municipal councils must approve forwarding the measure to voters. If any one municipality votes against it, the proposal cannot go on the ballot. Last year, TARTA sought a 0.5-percent sales tax increase. While Maumee approved the measure, Sylvania Township voted against it and the proposal fell.
“This year, we are asking for four-tenths of a percent instead of a half-percent, hoping that will survive the vote in various governmental entities that will allow us to appear on the ballot,” said TARTA board member and Maumee representative Frank Frey.
The increase in revenue would allow TARTA to become a countywide entity, he said. Further expansion will also allow TARTA to adapt to the changing needs of its riders by allowing service to include areas such as Spring Meadows and the city of Oregon, which are currently not served.
A strategic plan, which was outlined during a special presentation at the June 18 council meeting, focused on the technology and service improvements slated for implementation.
“We know we need to become more efficient and attractive for the future and provide a better service,” said Stacey Clink, TARTA comptroller.
Routes will be restructured and a new phone app will allow riders to check routes and pay with a credit card. Online scheduling for TARP (paratransit) services will also be offered. Automated vehicles will also be tested, thanks in part to a grant that TARTA recently received. The project will be a joint venture between TARTA and The University of Toledo.
An “Uber-like” countywide service will also be offered. A new hub is being planned for downtown Toledo and TARTA has taken over the responsibility of transportation services for The University of Toledo.
“The problem is that with all of these things we are doing, we need more funding to do them all because we just don’t have the local share to meet the capital project needs that we have,” Clink said.
TARTA’s funding request would remove 2.5 mills of property tax, which equates to $87.00 annually for a home valued at $100,000.
The current property tax funding system generates approximately $12.9 million annually for TARTA and the new sales tax proposal is expected to generate $25.6 million. TARTA also receives $10 million in state and federal funding.
If approved, $5.1 million would be allocated back to the participating jurisdictions, including Maumee, to cover costs related to street maintenance and repair.
Council member Scott Noonan said he appreciates the plan.
“As someone who advocates for people with disabilities, I really do like the specific plan of the Uber-type program,” he said.
Maumee City Council is expected to vote on a TARTA resolution at a future council meeting. Regular council meetings take place on the first and third Mondays of the month at 7:30 p.m. in council chambers at the city administration building. The Committee of the Whole meeting, which includes a discussion of items on the agenda, begins at 7:00 p.m. The agenda is posted on the city’s website on the Friday prior to each meeting.
For more information, please visit www.maumee.org.