Vote Set On Bus Millage Increase

June 2, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Interurban Transit Partnership Board decided last week to seek voter approval for a 0.20 increase in the tax levy, from its current 0.75 mills to 0.95 mills.

Wednesday the board debated the pros and cons of three possible millage proposals for the six-city Rapid bus system, as part of their months-long quest to balance the budget and community needs for service.

The proposals were: renewing the millage at its current 0.75 level; increasing the millage to 0.868, which would maintain existing service levels and make up for recent reductions in state funding; or raising the millage to 0.9568, which would provide for more service without tapping operating capital. The ITP staff had recommended the latter.

There were effective arguments on all three sides.

Ten of the 15 board members, however, supported Mayor John Logie’s idea of “up 2” — simply adding 0.20 mills to the current 0.75 for a clean 0.95 millage. 

Board member Carol Sheets of Wyoming noted that at that rate, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay 87 cents per month, or $10.44 a year.

Citizens backing a millage rate hike have packed ITP board meetings over the last several months, stumping for a 1.0 millage increase that would effectively eliminate the threat of service cuts, as well as provide for what they believe are needed service enhancements. 

Among the most ardent and vocal supporters of a millage increase have been community organizations such as Concerned Citizens For Improved Transit, Faith In Motion, West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Catholic Human Development Outreach and downtown religious organizations whose representatives had clearly articulated to the board the detrimental effect service reductions would have on their members ability to be active, daily participants in the communities in which they live.

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