Yesterday, the millage to bring bus rapid transit (BRT) to the Rapid (the bus service for Grand Rapids and five suburbs) failed. It was an extension of a current millage and a slight increase. The increase would have amounted to $12 per year for a $150,000 house. This would have raised about $13 million per year for five years, which would have leveraged $40 million from in federal money to build the stations. Five years of study went into this, to determine the best corridor to start BRT in, and what the economic impact would be (400 jobs to build it out, plus lots of reinvestment in the community around the stations), and what the impact on traffic would be (hint- the congestion on the parallel freeway would be reduced).
Arguments against included: 1) the buses always seem empty when I see them go past; 2) I don’t ride the bus, so why should I pay; 3) this will increase traffic; 4) the whole country needs to stop spending, so we should refuse this grant and send a message to DC; 5) the corridor is a shithole anyway, why would anyone want to ride the bus there, let alone invest in new business there.
The measure passed in the city, but lost in the 'burbs. It was endorsed by virtually all local politicians and civic groups, including the Chamber of Commerce. I pit the short-sided residents of the suburbs, who have been sucking of the teat of the city for decades, the mayors and council members who failed to impress upon the electorate the need for this investment (where else but Michigan needs stimulus money more??), and the local media outlets, which while trying to seem balanced, were subtly biased against the measure.
Michigan will bounce back. For one thing we’re smart enough to vote for someone other then Bush. We’re the inventive source of cold breakfast cereal, mass auto production, safe electric traffic lights*, and we have a strong talent base as well as industrial infrastructure.
It’s just a question of the auto industry either firing back up or finding new products to make.
*apparently England had a gas traffic light in 1869, but it exploded killing a cop so I don’t think that counts.
What is a “millage”? I’ve never heard of that term, except that I can gather that it’s some kind of funding process or decision.
As to your general situation–I suppose that’s what you should expect in the state that is the birthplace of mass manufacture of automobiles in the U.S. The climate of the Upper Midwest, combined with the public transit convenience of L.A. It’s too bad, because BRT is cheap and can be highly effective if done right. The Orange Line in suburban L.A. has been very successful.
BTW I wanted to mention that I love the phrase “naive myopes”. It rings of a crossword puzzle clue and gives me the feeling I should be checking 27 Down or 17 Across to see what the desired word intersects with…
It kinda does, doesn’t it? Must be all the crosswords I’ve been doing the past few weeks- got back on the bandwagon. It describes the situation quite well- this was defeated by un/mis-informed short sighted people. A lot of people thought that the feds would put the matching funds back into the treasury if we turned it down. Instead, some other, more forward thinking and pragmatic region will get our money. But I guess there might be hope- I’ve heard that we have a second chance after February 2010.
Property taxes are assessed at a rate of mills per dollar of value (a mill being 1/10 of a penny, or 1/1000 of a dollar). Of course, value is a nebulous thing. In Michigan, the State Equalized Value is generally about half of the market value (I have no idea why). Property taxes are split into various millages- one for the state (a hunk of which is supposed to go back to municipalities), one for the school district, and several other special assessment districts, such as the Interurban Transit Partnership, the official name of the Rapid, the bus service for greater GR. The original millage was 1.12 mills, and the additional millage for the operating expenses for the BRT was .16 mills. So, a $200,000 house would be assessed at $100,000 SEV, and would pay $128 to the ITP instead of $112.
Just because Florida is a net contributor doesn’t negate that it has received a lot of disaster aid from the feds. Makes it easier to swallow, sure. But how many hurricanes does it take to learn the lesson?
That’s too bad, so much momentum downtown now it is a good time to push transit. Though I’m in the county The Rapid doesn’t serve my area unless its the county connection bus($15 anywhere you want to go), so it wasn’t on my ballot.
I guess the surveys indicated that southsiders would take the bus, esp a express bus. I wish there was an express to Gr or lansing, serving the townships.
What lesson? Stop living in Florida? Hurricanes can strike pretty much anywhere along the Atlantic seaboard, you know. Are you going to call for people to stop settling in Oklahoma because of tornadoes?
Poor phrasing on my part. My point is, Florida gets aid every time there’s a destructive hurricane. Which is what, every two or three years on average? So maybe you should think twice about bitching about federal investment in other parts of the country.
Yeah, I was pissed that this did not pass. But I didn’t dare hope for it much, GR (or at least the suburbs) has a tendency to not pass things that will make the city better just because it might cost a few bucks (remember the Meijer Zoo? More free money that GR turned away). I am not sure how we are supposed to grow and create jobs if people don’t stop and think about stuff like this a little more. Oh no, it will cost money! Yeah…I can see how $12 is too much to pay to create over 400 jobs. Or not.
I agree that Grand Rapids will recover. And there will be another chance for the Silver Line. But stuff like this makes me shake my head.
Please explain to me why I should subsidize anyone else’s transportation. I have a car that I paid for, roads that I pay for, fuel that I pay for, etc. Why am I required to also pay for someone else’s transportation?
Your reasons against it seem mostly fair:
1 - There are serious questions about the financial viability of public transit. I see no reason to piss money away on someone only 55% of the citizens would use
2 - Right - this is the easiest excuse and also the most compelling and logical
3 - Maybe, but this one seems lame
4 - Yes - a belt-tightening message would be good
5 - Sorry, but yea - I live near Gary, Indiana, and am disheartened to see what it’s like. But it’s a shithole.
You stated above that it would amount to a personal increase of $12 per $150k household. Does that include the $40 million in Federal dollars? If not, then that $12 is growing in size. What happens when the buses are not paying for themselves? Subsidies are brought in, and the cost per taxpayer increases…
We are having a similar issue with bus service in Lake County, and I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot lately. I just can’t see why this is something (else) I should pay for.