Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May Election-Mixed Results for Transportation Measures in Michigan

Election results for the first transportation ballot measures of the year are mixed. Two regions in Michigan took transportation funding issues to the ballot on May 5. The results are one solid win for public transportation and one very close loss.

Last November, a measure to increase the property tax millage in Kalamazoo County, MI failed at the ballot. In response, a two-tiered plan was designed to get Metro Transit the funding it needs. The first part of the plan was approve last week by 63% of voters! A 0.4-mill property tax levy was approved to pay for Care-A-Van service and bus routes that would extend beyond the city of Kalamazoo. The tax will generate approximately $3.27 million a year.

For the second part of the plan, the City Commission is expected to approve another measure for the November ballot, in which voters within the city of Kalamazoo would be asked to approve another 0.6-mill tax. The city tax in November would raise about $1.06 million annually for Metro Transit within Kalamazoo.

The news from Grand Rapids, MI was not as positive. Voters in Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Walker, Wyoming and Grandville failed to approve a property tax increase to pay for a high-speed bus line operated by The Rapid. Although the measure appeared on the ballot last week, the 0.16-mill increase was not scheduled to go into effect until 2012. Election results were 52% against and 48% in favor.
Revenue from the tax would have covered operating costs of the new system and maintenance for existing Rapid bus routes.