I think you could solve the problems you're having with Jifty and Catalyst pretty quickly if you join their mailing lists and ask for help. (And, as was already pointed out, there is no reason at all you need to run the test server provided by Catalyst. It's entirely optional and for dev only.)
in reply to Catalyst, Jifty MVCs too "expensive"...feasible alternative?
However, to address your larger question of whether there is something more lightweight, there are plenty of alternatives. If you already know how to call a templating tool and how to write data objects (with an ORM or not), all that's left is URL mapping and some error handling and glue code. You could write that from scratch and you wouldn't be reinventing anything very significant, provided your URL mapping needs are minimal.
Or you could use a lightweight tool like CGI::Application, which has the glue code you're likely to need already but is still pretty quick to get going on. It's a very easy learning curve.