It looks like the busses in Ypsi may keep rolling

Remember how, a few days ago, I mentioned that Ypsilanti’s City Council had, as a cost savings measure, voted to trim local bus service? Well, it looks now as though the AATA might be willing to cover our shortfall, so that service can continue at present levels for the near future… Or at least that’s what I’m hearing from Council… The following comes from Ypsi City Council member Brian Robb:

At tonight’s AATA Planning Committee meeting, the committee unanimously recommended using just over $200K worth of Federal stimulus money to make up the shortfall in Ypsilanti’s budgets for the next two fiscal years. They essentially recommended the resolution Ypsilanti City Council passed on September 8th.

Keep in mind, this is only a recommendation, but if the full board passes this, there will be no service cuts, and we will be having an millage election of some sort in November of 2010.

Councilman Pete Murdock adds:

Now let’s get ready for the Headlee Override election designated for public transportation in November 2010.

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  1. Andy
    Posted September 16, 2009 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    If they’re so unwilling to chip in for bus service for Ypsi, then what does that say about the future when it comes time to chip in for the commuter rail service and the additional bus routes that will run to take people to and from the station? Anyway, that’s good news for the time being.

  2. Mark H.
    Posted September 16, 2009 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Seems like this vote by AATA board is a vindication of the position taken by the Ypsi City Council.

  3. Jeff Martin
    Posted September 16, 2009 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    The key word is “committee.” It isn’t the committee that makes policy and it isn’t members of the committee that have the agenda to restructure AATA funding.

    “Only a recommendation” should be triple underlined. We are a long way from vindication, Mark H. and a short step from selling out the most vulnerable among us for a political stunt.

    What we have here is a game of chicken. Here’s hoping Murdock and Robb and their partners have hedged their bets well because the stakes are very high for many real people who they represent. If you want to know the stakes, imagine having your ability to provide for yourself and your children ripped out from under you.

    That’s the game.

  4. Michelle
    Posted September 16, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    Can someone who is close to him explain to Brian Robb the difference between a ceremonial planning committee and an elected board of directors? Either he really thinks this is news or he’s trying to say something to stall the folks with the torches and pitchfolks from storming the tower.

  5. ypSiWeird
    Posted September 16, 2009 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Politics is too damned yoda zen master for me. “To save the busses one must vote to destroy the busses.”

    I need number five like you don’t know. Don’t make me paranoid.

  6. Mark H.
    Posted September 16, 2009 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    My apologies for typing ‘board’ when I meant planning committee. But I don’t think a transportation agency’s planning committee is merely ceremonial.

    As I understand the council’s action it was a way of saying “the city of Ypsilanti cannot subsidize the bus services as much as we’re being asked to. Therefore, we want serious planning to be undertaken on how to sustain these services, and if they are not sustained by other funds, we recommend that the following cuts be made….” It struck me as a negotiating strategy. Public agencies engage in such negotiations all the time; in our society, by applying pressure and drawing lines, outcomes and decisions are influenced.

    Bravo to council and to the AATA planning committee for both recognizing that the routes within Ypsi are part of a county wide transportation system, and that solutions cannot be found within a single municipality.

  7. Michelle
    Posted September 16, 2009 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Mark H. Please name the members of the “planning committee” (yes, bravo to them!) and their actual power at implementing policy.

    I’ll follow with the board… tell me if I’m missing something?

  8. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 16, 2009 at 10:59 pm | Permalink


  9. Pete Murdock
    Posted September 16, 2009 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    AATA’s Planning and Development Committee is a subcommittee of the AATA Board. It consists of three of the seven members of the Board. They are:

    Ted Annis (Chair), Paul C. Ajegba and Rich Robben.

    The seven members of the AATA Board are:

    David Nacht, Board Chair
    Paul Ajegba, Board Treasurer
    Ted Annis
    Jesse Bernstein
    Charles Griffith, Board Secretary
    Sue McCormick
    Rich Robben

    The next AATA Board meeting is on Wednesday, September 23
    Meetings begin at 6:30 pm and are held in the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority Board Room at 2700 S. Industrial, Ann Arbor.

    This is the meeting that the full AATA board will discuss and act on the planning committee’s recommendation.

    Hope to see you all there.


  10. Kira Berman
    Posted September 17, 2009 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    AN IMPORTANT CORRECTION: The AATA Board meeting is at 1 pm on Wednesday September 23 – Please don’t go at 6:30 pm! Route 5 is an essential bus to the Ypsilanti Schools, bringing many high school students to and from school, work, and downtown, and helping to attract school of choice students to our district’s creative programs. I am disappointed that City Council did not consult school district leadership before voting to discontinue this essential bus service to a population clearly largely without cars. I can only hope the full AATA Board will see fit to provide a temporary solution through stimulus funds.
    Kira Berman, Trustee, Ypsilanti Public Schools

  11. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 17, 2009 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I want to point out now that we are going to need to get organized and GET ON THE BUSSES with information on a county wide millage proposal when it is ready to go. Voter education will be huge on this. We all know that those who don’t understand the need for public transit will be “educating” area residents on “evils” of a reigonaly funded system. It will take dedication to get every vote we can from ALL of the areas serviced by the AATA, and those outside of those areas who understand the true importance of public transit. Ypsi, A2, Chelse, Superior, Pitsfilied, Ypsi and all the other townships. I’m still not a fan of brinksmanship, but Pete is correct. We need to prepare ourselves for this fight now.

  12. Mark H.
    Posted September 17, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Right on, Pete, and right on, Andy Y! A campaign is needed.

  13. EOS
    Posted September 17, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Permalink


    It will be futile. Count the numbers. There are more votes in townships with minimal service than there are in the two cities with substantial AATA buses. If you want it – then pay for it yourself. If you can’t afford it – then reduce the costs. But the rest of the county, who already pay for YOUR buses through with our State and Federal taxes, isn’t going to pay even more. As if the townships are going to be real compassionate while forking over an additional two million to be screwed on the police services already. As if there aren’t already two more important millage increases already on the Nov. ballot.

  14. Teddy
    Posted September 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Don’t worry.

    If the murder rate in the Township keeps up, we’ll soon be able to outvote them.

  15. Glen S.
    Posted September 17, 2009 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    If the full AATA Board decides to uphold its subcommittee’s recommendation, it will certainly be a big relief — and provide a great opportunity to begin laying the groundwork for a campaign to pass a regional millage that will provide stable and sustainable funding for public transit.

    However, I’m still disappointed in our City Council for ignoring its own rules by failing to provide public notice of the resolution, and for being willing to use riders on Routes #5, #10 and #11 as “pawns” in their discussions with AATA.

    That aside, I do hope this deal holds … and, despite our differences, I am personally committed to working together with any others who want to begin laying the groundwork for a future transit millage campaign.

  16. Pete Murdock
    Posted September 17, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Kira is correct. AATA has changed from its regular 6:30PM meeting time to 1:00PM for the meeting on Wednesday, September 23rd.

    See you then.

  17. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 17, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    EOS, I’m willing to be that there are plent of people in the township who understand how their well being is connected to the well being of those living in the cities they live near. Bussing reduces traffic and polution. Commuters will understand how busses make their commute easier, not to mention the hundreds who take advantage of park and ride and use the bus.

    Isolationism was debunked on an international level 100 years ago. It is simply not possible for a communtiy to stand without the cooperation of their neighbooring communities. Join the 21st Century.

    Oh, and if county wide millages continue to fail, I’m all for a sprawl tax.

  18. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 17, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    A one PM transit commitee meeting is ridiculous. Unless you are trying to avoid having working people attend.

  19. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 17, 2009 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and Glen S., I’m willing to work with you on this one, and I have some other folks ready to go as well.

  20. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    I’m glad we can all agree that it is fitting and just that China should pay Ypsi’s unpayable share of the bus service.

  21. Curt Waugh
    Posted September 19, 2009 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    You know what would have been awesome? If our forefathers and mothers had done the right thing and invested in public transportation 100 years ago. Then, our society would have grown up around the public transportation routes and travel would now be dirt-cheap for everybody. Lower-wage workers could have easily afforded to go to downtown Ann Arbor (or Detroit – a THRIVING Detroit) to work and live wherever the hell they want. Ann Arborites (and Detroiters) could easily hop a bus/train and head out to neighboring towns to shop or sample the cuisine.

    But that would have caused the cost of driving to skyrocket as driving subsidies (which are legion) would never have materialized. The BA’s and EOS’s of the world – all of us – would have been forced to bear the full cost of driving. And this thought scares the living shit out of them. EOS, if you think you’re having a hard time affording to live now, wait until you have to pay the full cost of your incredibly wasteful transportation. I think what you’re seeing here is that WE’RE tired of subsidizing YOU.

    But no worries. We’ll all be dead 100 years from now and folks can bitch on that we did nothing 100 years ago to make life any better for anybody.

  22. rodneyn
    Posted September 19, 2009 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Our forefathers DID invest in a remarkably versatile public transit system 100 years ago. It included inter-urban streetcars that you could ride between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor (the famous “Ypsi-Ann”), and also between other Washtenaw County towns (Saline, Dexter, Milan, etc.) and even all the way to Detroit. Similar transit systems existed in Detroit and elsewhere.

    The system worked reasonably well until automobiles and buses came on the scene in abundance. In particular, these systems worked until GM noticed them. General Motors execs made a decision decades ago to actively seek to replace streetcars across the country with “more flexible” buses (manufactured by GM, of course). They were quite successful.

  23. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 19, 2009 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Just like in Roger Rabbit.

    Curt, for God’s sake, read my posts. I’ve offered far more of my own money to help fund the buses than would have been taken out of my paycheck by taxation. I’m not just doing it to look like a martyr, I’m doing it to show that volunteerism can work. Those who keep attacking my character or motives unjustly really need to get their heads out of their asses and learn to fucking read.

  24. Posted September 19, 2009 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    A gas tax in my opinion is the only way to go. It needs to go nation-wide and the proceeds need to go toward alternative energy research and mass transit. If you look back through the archives, I know I’ve got a big post on the idea somewhere. It’s the perfect solution. It would encourage people to drive less, and, at the same time, enable us to re-build the infrastructure we so desperately need. Of course, no one in Congress has the courage to say it. And that, my friends, is why we’re gonners.

  25. Blue Molly
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I heard that Clean Energy Coalition is going to use some of their (ample) renewable energy money to expand Ypsi’s bus service with hybrid buses, which would be great.

  26. Glen S.
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Also, a reminder that Ypsilanti City Council meets tonight at 7 p.m.

    This is a great opportunity for those who support public transit in Ypsilanti to let their elected officials know how they feel — especially while we await a final decision from AATA about whether they will agree to use “stimulus” money to avoid implementing City Council’s decision to eliminate Route #5 and reduce service on Routes # 10 and #11.

  27. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Was any one able to make it to the hugely inconvienent 1pm meeting today? What was the result? I really wanted to go, but I, um, have a day job.
    Also, does anyone know why the AATA would have a 1pm meeting? Maybe because most of the people who use the bus are at work?

  28. Oliva
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    No, Andy Y., didn’t make it, didn’t have the right time actually. I thought the meeting was tonight and was hoping to be there with a friend.

    Thanks for the heads up.

  29. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Ypsi bus routes staved by AATA stimulus money, thanks to Brian Robb for the update. Now we need to gear up for a county wide transportation millage on the ballot next November

  30. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    That was supposed to be “saved” I guess I could have said Ypsi staved off tragedy, thanks to the AATA….

  31. Posted September 25, 2009 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    It looks like it’s official. According to this note that I just received from Councilman Murdock, the AATA has agreed to fund all routes through 2011.


    Pete Murdock – City Councilmember – Ward Three

    With the action of the AATA board on September 23rd, the Ypsilanti City Council has secured an expanded contract for public transportation with no service reductions through June 30, 2011. The details of this agreement are as follows.


    For the first time, the City and AATA will be entering into a service contact that is longer than one year. The contract will run twenty-one (21) months from October 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011. This secures and stabilizes the public transportation services in the City of Ypsilanti while a more permanent funding solution is pursued.


    There are no service reductions in the new extended contract.


    The City Council has pledged an amount of $218,000 for the AATA contract for FY 2010-11 – an increase of $ 60,000 over this year’s allocation. The City’s commitment for the two year cycle is now $ 376,000.


    AATA received $6.4 million dollars in stimulus money of which 10% can be used for operations. Stimulus money was awarded on a formula that contained Ypsilanti’s population and ridership. The AATA Board agreed to provide up to $ 202,000 to cover the shortfall for this contract period while a regional authority or other permanent funding mechanisms are pursued.


    A secure dedicated source of funding for public transportation is necessary for the long term. This contract gives us a little breathing room to develop such a program. A regional system – either County wide or consisting of the Urban communities, with a dedicated millage would provide the best service at the lowest overall cost. City Council, cannot by itself make that happen, but is committed to pursuing that goal with those that can – AATA, the City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County..


    AATA’s decision to use Stimulus money to fill the shortfall was clearly based on the City’s commitment to the two year funding cycle as well as the City Council’s commitment, in the event that no regional system emerges, to place on the November 2010 ballot, a Headlee override – City Charter Amendment (.9 mil) designated for the sole purpose of funding public transportation. Without the commitment to securing dedicated funding in the long term and the two year funding in the near term, it was unlikely that the AATA would have authorized the use of the stimulus funds for Ypsilanti.

  32. Mark H.
    Posted September 26, 2009 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Seems to me like the AATA’s decision is pretty much a complete vindication of the actions of the City Council majority, and refutation of the no strategy position of Council critics who slammed the Council. Bravo to Pete and Robb and the whole Council majority who proactively responded to a real problem without naively ignoring fiscal realities.

  33. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted September 26, 2009 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Yes Mark H. It is called statesmanship…

  34. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 28, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    From Advance Ypsilanti.
    Five-for-5 Initiative Kickoff
    September 29, 2009
    6:15 PM – 7 PM
    Ypsilanti Senior Center, Recreation Park
    1015 N. Congress St.
    Together we can fight to protect public transit — a necessary lifeline for many, a service
    that benefits everyone who lives or works in Ypsilanti, a means to a more walkable and
    sustainable community, and a key component to the success of the Detroit-to-Ann Arbor
    commuter rail project.
    We must maintain public transit at its current levels both now and for the future!
    AY PAC’s “Five-for-5” initiative asks you to do one or more of the following:
    ! Take 5 minutes to email city council members and let them know you don’t
    approve of voting on such an important issue with no public notice or
    opportunity for community input!
    ! Spread the word to 5 friends/neighbors about the importance of public
    transit and how city council must not gamble with it
    ! Contribute $5 (or more) to AY PAC. Help us fight to protect public transit and
    insure that the public will be informed when decisions regarding transit and other
    major issues are to be made.
    Visit the AY PAC website for more information at Join us
    on Tuesday, September 29 for the “Five-for-5” event in Ypsilanti to show support.
    We must resist cuts that threaten the accessibility, convenience and reliability of public
    transit. If we don’t act now, we will have to fight for public transit again and again.
    Let’s solve this problem together for the long term benefit of all.
    Send email…Talk to friends/colleagues…Give to support our efforts.

  35. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 28, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    From Advance Ypsilanti.
    Five-for-5 Initiative Kickoff
    September 29, 2009
    6:15 PM – 7 PM
    Ypsilanti Senior Center, Recreation Park
    1015 N. Congress St.
    Together we can fight to protect public transit — a necessary lifeline for many, a service
    that benefits everyone who lives or works in Ypsilanti, a means to a more walkable and
    sustainable community, and a key component to the success of the Detroit-to-Ann Arbor
    commuter rail project.
    We must maintain public transit at its current levels both now and for the future!
    AY PAC’s “Five-for-5” initiative asks you to do one or more of the following:
    ! Take 5 minutes to email city council members and let them know you don’t
    approve of voting on such an important issue with no public notice or
    opportunity for community input!
    ! Spread the word to 5 friends/neighbors about the importance of public
    transit and how city council must not gamble with it
    ! Contribute $5 (or more) to AY PAC. Help us fight to protect public transit and
    insure that the public will be informed when decisions regarding transit and other
    major issues are to be made.
    Visit the AY PAC website for more information at advanceypsilanti .com Join us
    on Tuesday, September 29 for the “Five-for-5” event in Ypsilanti to show support.
    We must resist cuts that threaten the accessibility, convenience and reliability of public
    transit. If we don’t act now, we will have to fight for public transit again and again.
    Let’s solve this problem together for the long term benefit of all.
    Send email…Talk to friends/colleagues…Give to support our efforts.

  36. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 29, 2009 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to remind everyone that Advance Ypsilanti is holding a meeting to discuss a long term plan for Ypsilanti busses today. I’m expecting to hear about a county or regional millage for transit, and a Hedley Overide Amendment for a millage with in the city if the regional proposal fails to make the ballot. I have it on good authority that the Mayor, several council members and folks from Keep Ypsi Rolling will be there, so this should be an interesting exchange of ideas. Here’s hoping we’re talking about soulutions to fund our busses, and not grinding any political axes. Let’s make this a quality of life issue, not a politcal football. Please. The info on the meeting is in a post above. 6:15pm tonight @ Ypsi Senior Center, 1015 N. Congress

  37. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Just some thoughts on transit after attending last night’s AY PAC transit meeting.

    First, the AATA is already funded by taxes. In A2 there is a dedicated millage. In Ypsilanti and all of the townships that are served, the AATA is paid from the general fund. What a regional millage would mean is a reimagining of the AATA; a transformation from the Ann Arbor Transit Authority to an Ann Arbor AREA Transit Authority. The AATA already services the most densely populated areas of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Superior, Pittsfield and other townships. It also includes express service to Chelsea and Canton, and servers hundreds of commuters from outlaying areas through park and ride. Instead of each area paying for service separately from their general funds (read: tax revenue) it would be a unified tax specifically for transit, hopefully including the A2 to Detroit rail system.

    A tax of this type does not have to be a county wide tax. It could be applied to those cities and townships that receive bus (and rail service). In theory, this regional approach would be easier to pass than a county wide millage. But it will still be an uphill battle. Many township residents don’t believe they receive any benefit from bussing, however, if they make any regular trips to A2 they do. Less traffic, more available parking spaces, and less pollution are benefits that anyone who goes into A2 experience. Many township residents don’t believe the bus even services their area. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people who live in township apartments would tell them otherwise. A regional solution could also entail expanded bus service into the townships.

    With all of that said, even with all of the feelings around the area that it is high time that we have a modern, useful and far reaching transit plan, just as all successful metro areas have, we may not be able to bring this issue to the ballot. It is in the hands of the AATA to lead the way, and they may choose not to. In that case, Ypsilanti must be prepared to find a way to pay its own way for the services rendered by the AATA. Given our current financial woes, the only viable solution is to move out of the general fund model (the same fund that covers police, fire, DPW, parks, ect.) and into its own transit millage, just like A2. A Headlee Rollback Millage may not be the best solution, or the solution we want, but it may be our only solution. This type of millage could be written to end in the event a regional transit solution is enacted. This could mean that a millage could appear on the ballot WITH a regional proposal, and take effect in the event that the regional millage is voted down, or be voted on now in the event the AATA won’t put forward a proposal, and end in the future if a regional millage is later passed.

    I attended this meeting. I hoped to hear an open discussion of all possible solutions for bussing. Instead, what we got was more along the lines of political positioning. If we are going to be successful in finding funding for transit in Ypsilanti and beyond, we are going to have to put politics aside. The suggestion by council members and Keep Ypsi Rolling that we be prepared with a solution for local Ypsilanti funding was roundly dismissed by many members of AY PAC. That kind of political posturing will get us nowhere. We need to have a fallback position prepared.

    We need a regional transit solution to cover both bussing and rail. All successful metro areas have transit. But Michigan has a strong tradition of no cooperation between municipalities, and uncontrolled sprawl; we have been rewarded for this attitude with failing cities. We may not be able to push the solution we need through to a successful vote. We need to be prepared to offer a local solution for Ypsilanti if we can not cooperate as a region.

  38. Posted September 30, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Andy that we should consider a fallback position in case a regional effort fails, but given the limited time-frame, I think it important to focus our efforts on the option most likely to succeed at the polls, as well as the option most likely to bring long-term benefits.

    In my opinion, focusing first on the (City of Ypsilanti-only) Headlee rollback without first trying to pass a regional solution would be a big mistake. First, because I think Ypsilanti voters would be far more likely to support an effort if we are joined by our neighbors; and second, because I think “fixing” the funding situation inside Ypsilanti without simultaneously addressing the funding issues in neighboring communities would be pointless and counter-productive.

    For example, before AATA agreed to use stimulus funds to rescue Ypsilanti, City Council was exploring a number of options for cuts — including one ridiculous scenario that would have had certain bus routes simply stop at the Ypsilanti City limits, do a U-turn, and return toward Ann Arbor. If, on the other hand, we pass a Headlee override in Ypsilanti, while at the same time failing to address the larger funding issue, I can imagine a scenario where cash-strapped neighboring townships eventually decide to eliminate service, creating the opposite situation — a “system” that serves Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, but not the township areas in between.

    There is no denying that this issue is political in nature. However, far from being “political posturing,” I think that AY-PAC, in favoring a regional approach (as opposed to a more myopic, “local” approach), is recognizing that Michigan’s tradition of strong local control – with hundreds of individual cities and townships all fighting each other for the same shrinking resource “pie” – has been a primary catalyst for urban sprawl and a major drain on our economy; as well as a major hindrance to efforts to promote better, greener planning — and especially regional public transit.

    Again, I think time is short — and the public’s patience for any kind of new tax proposal limited. Likewise, I think trying to promote two different, yet related, proposals might confuse, and possibly turn off, potential voters — especially amid other potential ballot issues.

    Clearly, as a community, we need to make a choice, and make it soon. For my part, I strongly favor going in the direction of a regional solution, and then considering a local effort only as a last resort.

  39. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted November 3, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    From Pete Murdock

    Hi All –

    The AATA board meeting last Thursday took some significant steps toward the creation of a regional system. Michael Ford, AATA Director, gave a presentation that asked the Board to do four things.

    1. Revise their vision statement to include the entire county
    2. Pass a resolution to develop a County wide system
    3. Pass a resolution to create an Act 196 Authority
    4. Authorize the hiring of a consultant and designating staff to achieve No 2 and 3.

    After discussion, the plan is to adopt a new vision statement and County wide resolution at the AATA meeting on November 18 and a resolution to create an Act 196 and authorize the hiring of a consultant at the December 16 meeting. A public hearing will be scheduled prior to or at the December meeting.

    An RFP for the consultant will go out following the December meeting and a consultant will be hired in early 2010.

    Here is a lengthier report from the Ann Arbor Chronicle.

    Pete Murdock

  40. Posted November 3, 2009 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the update.

  41. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted May 17, 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    From Mayor Paul Schreiber:


    I write to you (25 of you to be exact) because you are interested in bus and rail transportation. On Tuesday night Ypsilanti city council will consider ballot language for a charter amendment to provide 0.9 mills for transportation. Draft language is pasted below.

    I’m writing to ask your support for deleting paragraph d. Even though a regional or county-wide millage seems like a final goal, the charter millage is better because:

    1. Transportation authority millages require renewal every four years. Charter millages don’t require renewal and are permanent with the charter.

    2. Ypsilanti can choose to opt out of a regional or county-wide transportation funding system without losing the permanent transportation funding of the charter millage.

    a. AATA can propose a 0.2 or 0.4 mill county-wide or regional millage that has a much better chance of passing in the rural areas without worrying about a loss of revenue from Ypsilanti.

    3. The expiration language assumes that a county-wide or regional millage would pay for transportation in the city of Ypsilanti. Kalamazoo, Jackson, and Grand Rapids all pay higher transportation taxes in the urban areas than in the rural areas. Rural areas will not vote to pay the same transportation amount as urban areas.

    4. A regional or county-wide rail millage would void the Ypsilanti charter millage for bus service. This may prevent AATA from proposing a rail millage in the future.

    5. An Ypsilanti charter transportation millage would complement Ann Arbor’s charter transportation millage and encourage the Ann Arbor DDA to invest in the bus system with express routes during rush hours instead of investing in more Ann Arbor parking lots.

    Any vote to raise taxes in this economy will be a tough sell. However, any ballot proposal should be as strong as possible.

    If you agree that a permanent transportation charter millage will make a strong statement to the rest of the county that Ypsilanti values and wants to enhance mass transportation, please contact your city council members or speak at the city council meeting on Tuesday during the public hearing on the charter amendment. The public hearing will follow a presentation on
    Parkview Apartments.

    Please feel free to contact me with comments.

    Best regards,

    Paul Schreiber


    6.01 Power to tax

    The City shall have the power to assess, levy, and collect ad valorem property and other taxes, rents, tolls, and excises for municipal or public purposes subject to limitations and prohibitions provided by the Federal or State Constitution, by law, or by this Charter.

    a. The annual, general ad valorem property tax levy shall not exceed one and nine hundred and thirty-five thousands (1.935%) percent of the assessed value of all real and personal property subject to taxation in the City, exclusive of any levies authorized by statute to be made beyond Charter tax limitations.

    Funds for Public Transit: In addition to any other amount which the City is authorized to raise by general tax upon the real and personal property by this Charter or any other provision of law, the City shall annually levy a tax of nine hundredths (0.9) of a mil on all taxable real and personal property situated within the City for the purpose of providing funds for operating and equipping a public transportation system for the City

    c. No method of taxation except those used by the City on the effective date of this Charter may hereafter be utilized without a vote of the people.

    d. In the event that a regional or county wide funding system of ad valorem property taxes, sales tax or other taxes is assessed on the residents of the City of Ypsilanti for the purpose of providing funding for public transit, this amendment shall be null and void and Section 6.01 of the City Charter shall revert back to the wording predating the adoption of this Amendment.

  42. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted May 17, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Regardless of which side of the above you fall on, please let you council members know you want this on the balot. I do think that removing the sunset clause would strengthen the proposal, and likely strengthen Ypsilanti’s position in contract negotiations with the AATA. I know Ypsilanti taxes are high, but this is important. The bus is an important economic engine in Ypsilanti, and we need to show support to help continue the growth of our communtiy.

  43. EOS
    Posted May 17, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    “The expiration language assumes that a county-wide or regional millage would pay for transportation in the city of Ypsilanti.”

    That would be a bad assumption that isn’t going to happen.

    Amending the charter to pay AATA just makes it very difficult to adjust to changing economic conditions in the future. Changes would require a city wide ballot initiative and couldn’t occur more frequently than every two years.

  44. Andrew
    Posted May 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand why poor people don’t have cars. There are car lots everywhere.

  45. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted May 17, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    So, EOS, do you have a better idea on how to secure public transit in Ypsilanti? I mean other than get rid of buses, because you don’t use them?

    And for the record, I think that this initiative will be extraordinarily hard to pass, but not nearly as hard as a county wide or regional initiative. I also believe that public transit is vitally important to the economic growth of Ypsilanti. To loose bus service would cost hundreds of people in the city, and the township, their jobs. If we are going to put the effort needed to try and win security for bus service, why take it away in favor of a county millage that may or may not be around four years after it’s passed initially? To pass a measure that guarantees funding for transit in the city, we increase our bargaining power with both the AATA and regional partners, helping to secure a more favorable contract. And even though changes would require a city wide vote, I find that favorable to relying on our neighbors in the townships to pass or renew a regional measure. And to be honest, I think it would be nice if we didn’t have to hear the people of A2 whine about how they subsidize Ypsi anymore.

    Look, I’m not (too) dumb. I know our taxes in Ypsi are high. Very high. But transit it vital to our growth as a city. I think it’s worth supporting, for the future of our city. And I don’t want to have to worry about the fickle fancy of township resident’s opinions on the issue.

  46. Brackinald Achery
    Posted May 18, 2010 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Seriously, set up a paypal donation widget to help fund the buses. Most of NPR’s funding is donations, and we all like NPR. I’ve got $500 right here, just waiting to donate to the buses. Dig deep, bretheren and sisteren. ‘Tis more blessed to give than force everybody else to give.

  47. EOS
    Posted May 18, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink


    I believe that cities that have a sufficient population to make mass transit an affordable option should fund buses out of their general fund. Annual budget discussions should include a review of all expenditures. Sure, AATA likes the idea of a millage dedicated by charter. That means they get their share first, and residents can only voice their opinions by circulating petitions and getting the issue on the ballot. If the taxpayers of the city feel that bus service is the number one priority of the city, then go ahead and vote for the millage. Otherwise, when city finances get really tight in the next few years, and you want to preserve the option of reducing bus routes as a means of balancing severe budget shortfalls, then vote the millage down and fund the buses annually.

    But be honest about it. Don’t sell the charter amendment process as a temporary fix only until you get the rural townships to pay for your city’s bus service. If the rural areas of the county ever approve a mass transportation millage, it will be extremely small in comparison to what the cities pay – because the bus service in the outlying areas will be extremely limited as compared to what the cities receive.

  48. Posted May 19, 2010 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    At the May 18, 2010 Ypsilanti city council meeting, a resolution was unanimously approved to put a 0.9 mill Headlee override question for transportation on the August 2010 ballot. Voters will be asked to approve or reject an increase in the Ypsilanti general fund millage from 19.1 mills to 20 mills under the city charter. The increase must be used for transportation if no other county-wide or regional transporation authority millage exists. If a transportation authority millage does exist, then city council can use all or part of the 0.9 mills to supplement the transportation authority millage. Any unused portion lowers the overall millage by that amount.

    The proposal has no expiration clause like previous draft versions. If passed, it gives AATA and Washtenaw County flexibility in fashioning a county-wide or regional millage without worrying about losing funding in Ypsilanti. If passed, the charter transportation millage does not require renewal every four years like a transportation authority millage. If passed, both Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor will have stable funding sources for transportation built into their city charters. That’s a strong positive statement for transportation.

    Through 2012, the AATA will have invested over $500,000 in AATA reserves and federal funds to keep Ypsilanti busses rolling. Ypsilanti voters will now have the chance to stake their claim on the value of bus service in Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County.

    The August election is coming soon and the transportation millage will be a hard sell for many people. However, the transportation millage is a 1.5% millage increase for home owners while property values have decreased by 8% to 10%. Most property owners will see a decrease in their property taxes even if the transportation millage passes. I hope it does.

    I welcome all comments.

    Paul Schreiber

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