Ypsi’s Charter Amendment for Public Transit

The following post, on the subject of our City’s proposed transit millage, comes from our friend Richard Murphy, Ypsilanti’s former city planner.

Just one short week from now, Ypsi voters will have their chance to vote on the City’s Charter Amendment for Public Transit, providing secure and dedicated funding for transit service in the City. (Sorry, Township voters – I’ve heard from a few of you asking for the chance to vote for transit funding, but this is just the City for now.)

Around budget time in the city, we always hear a lot of talk about “core services” – and I’d argue that public transit is one of those. I assume most readers understand the environmental reasons to support transit (or else don’t care) and focus on the economic:

Transit keeps people getting to their jobs, or to school, or both, bringing dollars into the community. AATA’s ridership surveys show about 35% of riders using the bus to get to work, and 40% to get to school – from Ypsilanti, both those types of trips are primarily into Ann Arbor, and those riders come home to Ypsi and pay their rent or their property taxes, patronize the bars and restaurants, etc. Anecdotally, I’ve talked to a number of riders who said that, without transit service, they wouldn’t be able to live in Ypsi. If we lose the bus, we lose these neighbors, and have to deal with more vacancies in our neighborhoods.

On the upside, transit service is a draw for new residents, especially the young, skilled, “creative class”, “Millennial”, whatever-you-call-’ems. A survey of young metro Detroiters, released this weekend by the Millennial Mayors Congress, found that good transit service is one of the most important things this demographic looks for in a place to live – and that 70% of respondents were unhappy with the level of transit service available to them. (Transit access was a bigger issue than job availability!) This is certainly why I’m involved in the campaign – we would never have moved to Ypsi if it didn’t have AATA, and I’m not interested in giving it up.

ypsirolling2On top of attracting new residents and keeping the ones we’ve got, add in things like allowing older residents to age in place, reducing the cost of living, and helping address traffic congestion for everybody who’s still driving, and public transit service is a pretty clear win for the community.

But it’s not something we can take for granted. Despite all of Ypsilanti’s benefits, it’s still a city in Michigan, which means we’ve got budget troubles. Thanks to 30 years of anti-tax policy at the State level combined with deindustrialization and now the foreclosure crisis, the City Council has had to make a lot of tough choices and a lot of cuts over the past several years to keep the city afloat. Our transit service has not been immune from those cuts. Last year, the Council worked with AATA to secure Federal recovery funds to cover the gap in funding for a two-year contract, with the understanding that this was a temporary fix.

The Charter Amendment is a more permanent fix. It’s a Headlee override of about 0.98 mills that would provide just about what our AATA contract costs, with language that would ensure the funds couldn’t be siphoned off to something else. As has been mentioned, yes, it’s effectively a tax rate increase – “Headlee override” means that we charged this millage once, we had to reduce it according to a formula in State law, and now we’re voting to override that formula. If it passes, we raise our tax rate back to 20 mills, where it used to be. (Though most of us can expect the actual tax bill to be lower next year anyways, based on what property values are doing.)

Over on the City Charter thread, I saw the assertion that the Charter Amendment’s dedicated funding was the wrong way to go – that “good public policy” would just put transit in each annual budget. The problem with this is that it requires a (political) decision every year at budget time, making it impossible to plan for. There are a lot of transit improvements that have been in the works for some time, from reworking AATA’s existing routes to adding late night or express service to Ann Arbor to the commuter rail to Ann Arbor, DTW, Dearborn, and Detroit. For Ypsi to see any of these things happen – even on others’ dimes – there has to be stable funding that can be relied upon from year to year to sustain the basic service. Even setting aside Ypsi’s current budget situation, providing a stable and dedicated funding source would be a good idea – and is how most transit funding is done, both in Michigan and nationally.

As was discussed here on MM.com over the summer, this is a do-over – the Charter Amendment appeared on the August ballot and won 70% of the vote at that time. Unfortunately, due to a technicality, that vote didn’t count, so we have to win it again: a Charter Amendment can only be put on a “General Election” or “Special Election” ballot. I understand this would only have required a resolution by Council declaring the August ballot to be a special election, but it wasn’t caught in time. To be very clear, this is not an issue for pinning blame on one half of Council or the other, as some have tried – I was working on the language with both Mayor Schreiber and Councilman Murdock up to the day of the Council vote, and the “special election” requirement managed to slip past the City Attorney in the process.

So remember – on November 2nd, vote “yes” for public transit. We expect a little bit of drop-off from that 70% number next week, as there’s a lot on the ballot, but think it’s a pretty good sign that Ypsilantians think transit is important and worth preserving. Take a snack to the polls, so you can make it through everything else on the ballot and show your support for transit.

Finally, everybody in Ypsi should make sure to participate in the “Moving You Forward” transit master plan process for Washtenaw County. As I said, there’s a lot in the works around transit, but this planning process will help determine what gets prioritized, and we need to make sure Ypsi is represented in the process.

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27 Comments

  1. Posted October 26, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    A couple folks left comments about the bus millage yesterday, in a related thread. I thought that I’d move them over here. Here’s the first such comment, left by someone calling himself Samuel:

    Posted October 25, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    With all due respect to supporters, many of whom I respect, I’d like to talk about the “Keep Ypsi Rollin” millage (what a nice “folksy” name) which deserves its own thread.

    The thing that bothers me about the proposal, isn’t that it supports transit, which I also do, but that it’s a masquerade – a shell game. It’s really just a plain old tax increase. By proposing a transit millage, council et al can take transit out of the rest of the budget. If council wants to pay for transit, they can (and should). Of course, that would mean they’d have to make equivalent cuts to other services which would be unpopular.

    This is a tax increase, plain and simple. It allows council (many of whom were elected on an anti-tax increase platform) to take transit out of the general budget so they don’t have to cut as much in other areas. Robbing Peter to pay Paul and whatnot.

    It might as well be a “police millage” or “fire millage” or “park maintenance millage” or “city council salaries millage,” but those don’t have as much grassroots support or sway with local voters.

    Vote for it or not. But just know you’re not voting to protect public transit as much as cover elected officials assess. If they want to protect transit, they can at any council meeting. It’s just a tax increase, a shell game, a PR move.

    I’ll vote for a tax increase; I just don’t like being treated like a pawn.

  2. Posted October 26, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    And here’s more from Samuel:

    Posted October 25, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    P.S. Who’s gonna put a “vote no for the bus” sign on their lawn in Ypsi? The vast majority of us support transit. Hell, the vast majority of us support all or most of our public services which is part of makes Ypsi a great town. But is it really good public policy (given that expenditures vary year-to-year) to support all these things piecemeal? What’s next? Recycling millage? Parks millage? Puppies and kittens millage?

    We’ll all end up paying too much one year and too little the next.

    The best way to support transit and great public service, long term, is to support transit within every annual budget.

  3. Posted October 26, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Later, Andy Ypsilanti had the following to say in response:

    Posted October 26, 2010 at 9:38 am

    I’m sorry Samuel, I just don’t see how this is a hidden tax increase. Yes, it is a tax increase, but really, if you look at the net tax burden within the city, residents are still seeing a net cut. I guess if you don’t know what a millage is, you can say it’s a hidden tax, but I think that most people (that care enough to vote, anyway) know that generally speaking millage = tax increase.

    The other thing that you should keep in mind is that there is no public transit budget at all currently in Ypsilanti. It was cut along with everything else, because there is no money. Our service for this year and next is being covered by Stimulus Money given to the AATA. There is nowhere to squeeze any more money from in the city budget, unless you want Ypsi to stop mowing the grass, picking up trash, putting out fires, and arresting bad guys. City council made a choice between AATA funding (and plenty of other stuff) and Police/Fire/Sanitation. Nobody’s super happy about finding ourselves in this situation, but hey, at least we didn’t get blind sided like A2 and lots of other cities, where city government just suddenly realized they were running out of money.

    You say it might as well be a police millage, or fire millage, or what ever. Well, yes, it could be, and had City Council chosen to cut one of those things instead of AATA funding, it probably would be. In this case, taxes are not being increased by the millage, the millage is stopping taxes from being lowered under as required by the Headlee amendment and dedicates that revenue to transit and only transit. The Headlee amendment, in part, states that cities must lower their millage rate if the tax rate on existing property increases so that they revenue collected, adjusted for inflation, stays the same. In example, if the tax base goes from $1,000,000 to $1,100,000 and the tax is one mil, the millage rate would need to be lowered to .909 mils so that the revenue collected remains $1000. Votes like this are taken all over the state to direct revenue already being collected to budget items that need it, instead of creating a new millage. I guess you could call it a shell game or a hidden tax, but this is how we are required to do things by the state constitution.

    So, yea, I’m all about calling out City Council when they do something stupid or shady, but I don’t really see it here. If you really don’t like how it’s being done, I would suggest you support the call for a Constitutional Convention in Michigan, because that’s pretty much the only way to change it now. As for changing the city’s charter, no I don’t really see the point of changing it now. As cities go in Michigan, our city is pretty darn functional, and so is our city government. (You can take that as a cometary on the state of the state if you like) And I kind of agree with John, who know what someone might try to teabag into our charter. I’m pretty sure EOS is in the township though, so at least we’ve dodged one bullet.

  4. Posted October 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    To which Samuel responded with the following:

    Posted October 26, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    I hear you and understand all your points. My issue is not with raising taxes or supporting transit. It’s with the dedicated millage. Why shouldn’t every item in the budget be given a dedicated millage? My answer is that its can end up being a terrible way to budget. If there’s an unexpected surplus in one area and a shortfall in another, you’re stuck. It also can remove the incentive to economize if you have extra funds (ever work for a department that tried to spend all their allocations at year’s end to avoid looking like they had too much money?)

    I would much, much prefer a tax increase that went into the general fund so that city hall (which I agree, does a fine job, generally) had the flexibility to fully fund transit as well as other services — whatever that meant for any given year.

    OK, I think that brings us all up to speed…

  5. Dudley
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    WTF should I pay tax to subsidize the bus…. Raise the cost to get on the dam thing and let the riders foot the bill… Same goes with a train. Stop subsidizing Amtrak!

  6. anonymous
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Samuel asked: “Who’s gonna put a “vote no for the bus” sign on their lawn in Ypsi? ”

    I’ve seen one on the lawn of someone who ran for City council a year or two ago, in northeast Ypsi.

  7. Posted October 27, 2010 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    I propose that the city of Ypsi stop mowing the grass!

  8. Knox
    Posted October 27, 2010 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    I agree with Murph, and I will be voting to pass the measure. I do think, however, that Samuel makes good points that are worthy of discussion.

  9. Posted October 27, 2010 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Dudley: “WTF should I pay tax to subsidize the bus…. Raise the cost to get on the dam thing and let the riders foot the bill… Same goes with a train. Stop subsidizing Amtrak!”

    When road and automobile subsidies, which dwarf bus and train subsidies in the US, start to see some cuts, then come back and we can talk about this.

  10. Posted October 27, 2010 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I referenced Samuel’s concerns in my piece. I certainly appreciate that he trusts City Hall to make good decisions – I do too, but I don’t trust that the opportunity to make those decisions will always be given to them.

    As I mentioned, the problem with trusting the Council to “do the right thing” about transit in their annual budgets is that it leaves everyone not knowing what next year’s service looks like until the last minute – every year, AATA is on notice that they may have to cut half or all their Ypsi service on 3 months warning, and that hinders their ability to deliver us service effectively.

    We’ve all got things we’d like to fix about the system, no matter how much we like it – how much work do you want AATA to put into overhauling their Ypsi operations when they might not exist next year? The Ann Arbor DDA has discussed funding some additional service to Ypsi (likely better late night or weekend service, oriented at downtown A2 employees) – but I can tell you that they’re not likely to move forward on any additional service if the existing service is in constant risk of evaporating.

    This is why I said that dedicated and stable funding is a Good Idea, even were we to set aside the city’s current budget situation. A stable mechanism gives the city more leverage in getting better service than a well-intentioned but by nature uncertain year-to-year budget line item.

    As for the question of suddenly ending up with too much money some year and having AATA go nuts with gold-plated rims for the buses – I don’t think there’s too much risk of that happening. For one thing, the same Headlee/Prop A issues that affect the city’s overall budget provide some smoothing to the revenues to come out of this, so we’re not going to see any big spikes or surpluses. Additionally, AATA’s historical performance shows they’re pretty good stewards of the money – both in national performance comparisons and in year-on-year service and efficiency improvements, they’ve got a great record. If we do start to see that this funding is growing, I’m confident that this will translate into filling in some of the service gaps we’ve identified, rather than into waste.

    Obviously, I’m not good at campaign-speak – all this should ideally be boiled down into a one-sentence soundbite.

  11. Edward
    Posted October 27, 2010 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Might this work against us when it comes to negotiate with the AATA? As I understand it, in the past they’ve been willing to cut us a break, as we didn’t have the funds necessary to cover the cost of service. I’d heard that they were willing to do this because it’s the Ypsi rider population that allows them to compete for government grants, and without them the Ann Arbor service would suffer. If this passes, and we have a pot of money set aside, might they be less willing to work with us on structuring such deals that work to both of our advantages?

  12. Samuel
    Posted October 27, 2010 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Murph,

    Thanks for your thoughtful and thorough reply. I’m still a bit confused on the value of dedicated funding. When I look at my tax bill, I only see one item (sanitation) that is currently dedicated (other than street bonds, which are temporary, and the education/county services that operate independently of the city budget).

    If dedicated funding is the way to go, why not do this for every service? I’d be curious if anyone familiar with the effects of the sanitation millage has insight on how that has played out. If we, for example, decide we’d rather have biweekly service in order to better fund public safety, does the dedicated millage inhibit our ability to transfer funds?

    For years, I paid the same amount on my mortgage. Then I refinanced for a lower rate. The surplus of the savings went to fund other needs. If my employer gave me a “dedicated housing allotment” in my paycheck it would demotivate me to do things like refinance and screw me if my housing expenses suddenly went up.

    The problem, to me, seems to be twofold: first, the city lacks funds. Second, transit has been too low of a priority which is what makes it an annual question. If we elect leaders who are truly committed to fully funding transit and give them the resources (through a general millage increase) to fund it, wouldn’t that also solve the issue of secure funding while giving them flexibility to address changing needs, the ability to negotiate, and the motivation to keep a close eye on value?

  13. Oliva
    Posted October 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Today we got a postcard bearing a 28-cent stamp urging us, in LOUD angry type, to vote against “all NEW taxes.” Just think of the useful ways this anti-tax PAC’s funds could have been spent. Instead, it hopes to squelch needed funding for the things most people–even plenty of those who are currently “anti-government”–value and rely on: libraries, public transit, parks. The one positive thing is the group’s direct support for our stalwart U.S. Postal Service.

  14. Scott
    Posted October 28, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I want a “Vote NO on New Taxes” yard sign…who can I contact to get one?

    And I’m serious, not being a smart ass.

  15. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    So, Barnes & Barnes seem to be coming out strongly for “No new Taxes”. This is just a guess, but since every one of their properties has a “No New Taxes” sign on it, I’d bet Barnes & Barnes is a large source of funds for the anti-public transit, anti-public library campaigners. Glad I don’t live in one of their places, I’d be pretty annoyed if my landlord forced their political beliefs on me by plastering my home with those signs.

    And Samuel, I don’t disagree with you. Having to pass dedicated millages for evey service we need isn’t a great way to run a government. However, in the current politcal climate, I think it would be quite hard to pass a general millage, but by targeting a specific need, it’s much easier to get people to stand with you. The state’s current practice of cutting funding to citeis also makes the situation more difficult; it’s hard to budget for services when you don’t know how much money you are going to have. A protected millage helps solve that problem.

    Again though, I think the basic problem you are talking about has to be solved at the state level, most likely by rewriting the state constitution, before it can start to change on the local level.

  16. James Madison
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    The easiest way, Scott, to get one of the Vote No on New Taxes signs, is to find one you like, and remove it, and put it up in a location that will please you more than its original location.

  17. Aardvark
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    To see who is funding the “No New Taxes” group, go to the Michigan State Bureau of Elections filing page for this group at https://secure.ewashtenaw.org/campaignfinance/userViewFile.do?filename=%2FPDF%2FP-2010-0080002.pdf.

    Yes, Bob Barnes, of Barnes and Barnes apartment renters, is the Treasurer and it is SO nice of him to care about us poor people of Ypsi, especially since he lives in Ann Arbor. Maurer apartment management is in their too. It’s pretty simple to see then that these firms would essentially get a tax break if the library, bus and land preservation issues are defeated.

    As far as the groups flyer that trys to scare you into believing that voting for these issues would, in their words, “chew up family budgets, create abandoned and foreclosed houses in your neighborhood, and force ordinary families out of their homes”. But according to AnnArbor.com articles, the library millage will cost the average homeowner $1.58/month, the bus millage $8/month and the land preservation millage (which is not a new tax and a request for a renewal) $2/month.

  18. Samuel
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Hey Andy Y, You don’t have to guess. Just look up the “Stop Taxation on Property PAC” on the Washtenaw County Web site (https://secure.ewashtenaw.org/campaignfinance).

    The anti parks, library and transit effort is spearheaded by both Barnes and the Maurer’s.

    And you may be right, maybe this is a case of not making the good the enemy of the perfect. Thing is, I think a general budget millage could pass if city council was vocal, unified and passionate in support of it. Of course, that would mean some on council might have to butt heads with folks who helped fund their “anti tax” runs for office (see above).

    I just don’t like the idea that we’re being offered lesser policy on a political calculation. Good God, where’s the passionate support? I’ve seen the hooplah political discussions have raised here in the past. Isn’t it, perhaps, a little telling that no else finds this worth the time to comment on? I would’ve expected fifty comments in support on the first evening. As it is, we’re up to about 17 with the two of us making up nearly half?

  19. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I hadn’t received the mailer, so I didn’t know the name of the PAC. I had just seen the signs. At least Maures didn’t plaster all of their rentals with that sign. I would have had to get a couple more “Keep Ypsi Roll’n” signs for the front yard of my Mauer appartment.

    I like the way you think, Samuel. I think it would take a sea change in city politics to get there, but I like it. Who do we get to run?

  20. Samuel
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Who isn’t really that important. Of course you want somebody intelligent enough to learn about and evaluate shit, not easily hooked on minor league power (moment of silence for recent loss), and generally in tune with your values, but there’s a lot of folks around town that could do the job. We don’t need a compelling figure, just voters.

    What’s most important is whether you can get 500 friends to vote in a primary election. That’s it. Roughly five hundred reliable voting friends per ward. And don’t be lured to friend folks with money. You don’t need 500 yard signs, just 500 votes.

    Warning. If you can’t find 500 reliable friends you’ll lose big to the folks who have been owning most recent elections. My recent favorite PAC is (back to ewashtenaw.org) “THE COMMITTEE FOR BETTER GOVERNMENT.” Funny how the same names keep popping up with $ attached?

    You seem like a man who knows people. If you can organize them, you have a sea changed future. Who knows, I might end up being one.

  21. Pete Murdock
    Posted October 30, 2010 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    @Andy and Samuel and others: It’s great to have a theoretical discussion about the value or lack thereof of designated millages for public transit. But we have had those discussions before and right now, TODAY, if you REALLY want to support funding for public transit in Ypsilanti, we need to pass the Keep Ypsi Rollin’ Charter Amendment on Tuesday and we could use your help.

    1. Spread the word that this is on the ballot (particularly with those tenants of the landlord group that is in opposition) and get them out to vote on Tuesday.

    2. We still have KYR Vote YES yard signs available to help offset the others. Email name and address to kyrsigns@google.com or contact the folks below to get one delivered.

    3. We need people to pass out flyers at the polls on Tuesday. If you have some time on election day, contact Grace Sweeney at 485-7799 Murdock.sweeney@comcast.net, or Richard Murphy at murph.monkey@gmail.com, or Beth Bashert at beth_bashert@yahoo.com or Ingrid Kock at ilkock@yahoo.com

    Celebrate with us at the Tap Room on election night.

  22. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted October 30, 2010 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Sam, I wouldn’t worry about the lack of support for “Keep Ypsi Rolling” above on this blog. This blog is just one small voice in Ypsilanti. Mostly it is just a few of the same people ranting on and on…And while I vehemently did not support a city income tax, I am supporting the 3 millage’s on the ballot. And I believe city council supports it too. Politics do make strange bedfellows.

  23. Posted October 30, 2010 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Samuel – I think you weaken your arguments by trying to paint all of these campaign committees as one big conspiracy. Looking through the campaign filings of the Committee for Better Government, I see some names that overlap with the current “no” vote campaign, but several names that overlap with the supporters of Keep Ypsi Rollin’. If this is a cabal of money, apparently nobody told the participants about it, because it’s the worst organized conspiracy I’ve ever seen. But I don’t really want to spend a lot of time discussing theoretical conspiracies counter-factually.

    The Charter Amendment for Public Transit has support from across a lot of the “divisions” that have been made up in the past. The Charter Amendment – and the Keep Ypsi Rollin’ campaign – has a long list of supporters, including names like Murdock, Robb, Pierce, Bodary, Farmer, Nickels, Gawlas, and Schreiber. I sincerely doubt you’d get that list pulling together if this were just some power play rather than the best possible option in front of us. (Not to mention Murphy – I know that guy pretty well, and he really has no time or interest in the kind of silliness that you’re alleging.)

    The Charter Amendment for Public Transit is the best option for preserving Ypsi’s transit service – and, at this point, pretty close to the only option. We’ve got the choice between voting “YES”, and providing a solid base for preserving and improving transit service in Ypsi, or voting “no”, and having our service slashed. Perhaps not to nothing – Ann Arbor would probably save 1 route to get their residents back and forth to Towner – but a “no” vote would dramatically cut Ypsilanti residents access to jobs, education, groceries, medical care, etc., a well as pose a challenge for continuing to attract new residents.

    If you really want to throw that away because there’s a theoretically better option, I suppose that’s your vote, but anybody who wants to support public transit in reality, and not just in theory, should be voting Yes on Tuesday.

  24. Posted October 30, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I will also note that I’m pretty disappointed in Karen Maurer’s leading role in the “No” PAC. With high-end downtown lofts becoming more and more substantial a part of Maurer Management’s business, I would hope they’d recognize the role that good transit service plays in helping attract the residents who fill those lofts. (Not to mention the fact that Maurer Management has received tax abatements on all of the loft projects anyways, minimizing the impact on those properties.) Many of the other landlords backing the PAC primarily rent to EMU students, and so have a more captive audience (and one with shorter memories), but Maurer’s lofts rely on attracting residents who could be anywhere.

    I admire the dedication that Eric and Karen Maurer have shown to downtown, and appreciate the impact they’ve made in bringing new residents to Michigan Avenue. But if they’re going to continue their success, and if we’re going to keep attracting residents and business to Ypsilanti when they have choices elsewhere, we need to maintain the amenities like transit (and libraries, incidentally) that these residents would like. It’s shortsighted to kill the goose laying the golden eggs just because you don’t want to pay for goose food.

    I would encourage anyone who is a tenant of Maurer Management (or any of the other landlords involved, for that matter) to express their disappointment with the “NO parks, libraries, or transit” stance that they’ve come up with.

  25. Glen S.
    Posted October 30, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    “The Charter Amendment for Public Transit is the best option for preserving Ypsi’s transit service – and, at this point, pretty close to the only option. We’ve got the choice between voting “YES”, and providing a solid base for preserving and improving transit service in Ypsi, or voting “no”, and having our service slashed.”

    Thanks, Murph, I couldn’t agree more.

    While I’m at it, I’d also like to encourage people to support the Ypsilanti District Library millage that also will be on the Nov. 2 ballot. While library tax revenues have been declining in recent years, usage is also WAY up — so passage is this proposal badly needed.

    Public transit and libraries are important community assets that help to make Ypsilanti a true “community,” and both are needed more than ever before — especially in these difficult economic times.

    Keep Ypsi Rollin’ … Keep Ypsi Readin’ … vote YES to support both on Nov. 2.

  26. Paul Schreiber
    Posted October 30, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Vote YES on transit!

    The Ypsilanti Transit Charter Amendment gives AATA and Washtenaw County flexibility in fashioning a county-wide transit plan without worrying about funding in Ypsilanti. 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 transit charter amendment is a 1.5% property tax increase for home owners (less for landlords) 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.

    Vote YES for the Ypsilanti Transit Charter Amendment on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

    Paul Schreiber
    734-277-5446

  27. Samuel
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Pete,

    It’s only a “theoretical discussion” because you folks on council didn’t put the theory of a general millage into reality. We could as easily be discussing the best option for preserving transit as a general millage, and a dedicated millage as “theoretical.” You created the reality.

    Murph,

    I didn’t mean to suggest a big conspiracy. I don’t think its a conspiracy. And I don’t think its big. I do think it’s worth while for voters to look at how much money a comparable few citizens are putting into elections and go the extra step and look at how the many of the same names appear in PACs. It’s also worth while to let folks know who is funding what. Agreed?

    And I’m glad transit is receiving such broad support. Part of my contention is that it’s receiving this support because it’s politically expedient. I think if the same names were assigned to a general millage, they could, with some effort, get it to pass. I suggest that passage of a general millage (if accompanied by political will to support transit) would have been the better policy choice but more difficult political choice. And yes, frankly, I would like to see politicians who’d previously said there was tons of money to be saved in city hall and we could cut our way out of any crisis own up to the fact they have to raise taxes to pay the bills. (BTW, the merits of dedicated millages vs. general seems to be the only point folks aren’t willing to directly engage.)

    WDM,

    Yah. I know almost no one reads this blog, but that hasn’t stopped the passionate few from filling the pages with their debate in the past. If nothing else, I’m glad they’re going on record now.

    In closing, support transit. One way or another. Next year, we’ll still be discussing how to fund police, fire, parks, and whatever else. At least we’ll have transit funding secure!

    -S

    P.S. I’m guessing it was just a coincidence that this discussion finally drew a few contributors after Andy Ypsi broached the topic of electing new representation…

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  1. By Keep Ypsi Rollin’… pros and cons on October 31, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    […] I posted something here written by my friend Richard “Murph” Murphy on the subject of the Ypsilanti ballot initiative to raise taxes in support of public transportation. Murph, Ypsilanti’s former city planner, is an enthusiastic supporter of the charter […]

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