Voters in Kalamazoo County will decide May 7th whether to approve a county wide transit millage. The proposal is a renewal of .04 mills for next four years. It pays for demand service known as County Connect. It also covers the line-haul service outside of the city of Kalamazoo.
The .4-mills also provides for service vans which are available to non-profit and other agencies. Line haul service in Kalamazoo, which makes up most of the bus lines in the county, is paid for a .6-mill levy approved by city voters in November. The county-wide.4-mills is also levied in Kalamazoo.
WMUK’s Gordon Evans spoke with Portage Mayor Pro-Tem Claudette Reid, who is also co-chair of the campaign committee urging a yes vote on the millage.
Reid says if the millage is approved there will be no difference in property tax bills. A home that has a value of $100,000 will pay $20 a year in taxes. They’re currently paying that for transit service, and the proposed millage is a renewal at the same rate. If it doesn’t pass Reid says the Transit Authority will have enough funds to keep services going for a while, but they will have to come back to voters for funding, or she says they will have to reduce services.
A proposed County-wide transit system plan is moving forward. Reid says it will still take a couple of years to complete the transition. She says in the meantime, it’s important to provide all of the services provided now. If the renewal is not approved, Reid says it would mean that the KCTA would have to put its efforts into getting sustainable funding for now and take attention away from the effort to create a unified system.
Reid says a survey shows that 73% of people who use county transportation services have no other option to get where they need to go. She says it helps the economic development of the region. Reid calls it a small price that everyone pays for a vibrant community.
Reid acknowledges that it will likely be a low turnout election. In some municipalities the transit millage is the only thing on the ballot. Reid says they are trying to make people aware of the election and that absentee ballots are available, but she says only a few people will make this decision.