News & Media
Vol. 9, No. 4May 05, 2011
In This Issue …
- Big Wins for Transit on the May 3 Ballot
- Want to Win Your Campaign? Learn How at TIC.
- Extremely Close Election in Grand Rapids Ends with Win
- 5-Year Old System Receives Tremendous Support on First Renewal
- May 3 Results
Big Wins for Transit on the May 3 Ballot
100% SUCCESS RATE FOR THE DAY
Six communities in Michigan and Ohio went to the ballot on May 3 with measures to continue or increase financing for local transit service. All six measures were approved by voters. This is a 100% success rate for the day and over 87% success rate for the year. The average rate for transit measures over the past 11 years has been 70%, with the most successful year being 2005 with 83% approval. Although fewer measures are placed on ballots in off-year elections, there are still a couple more measures expected later this year.
There were five property tax measures and one sales tax measure on the ballot Tuesday. Nationwide, sales taxes are the most common, but in Michigan, transit systems rely heavily on property taxes. There were two renewals, two increases and one "renew and restore" measure amongst the property taxes. The sales tax measure was a renewal.
Prior to May 1, two measures appeared on ballots in Washington State on February 8. Jefferson County voters approved a 0.3% sales tax increase, but voters in Pierce County failed to approve a similar measure.
Want to Win Your Campaign? Learn How at TIC
REGISTER NOW THE ATTEND THE 2011 TIC CONFERENCE
Despite continuing economic challenges, six communities ran campaigns that educated and motivated voters to get out in support of transit. The 2011 Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference will take a look at how what made May 3 such a successful day at the ballot and what actions these communities, and others, have taken to ensure that voters approve transportation ballot measures. Early bird rates end on May 20, so don't wait to register! Please visit http://cfte.org/TIC/TIC2011.asp for more information.
Extremely Close Grand Rapids Election Ends with Win
NEW BUSES, NEW JOBS FOR THE RAPID
The only close election on May 3 was in Grand Rapids and several other towns within Kent County, Michigan. The Rapid bus system serves Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Wyoming, Grandville and Walker. A 0.35 mill increase was placed on the ballot to support expansion of the bus system. The measure passed by 50.2%-49.8% or by only 136 votes. The extremely close race was won by heavy support within Grand Rapids and East Grand Rapids, which was needed to overcome a high level of negative votes in the other four communities. A 2009 millage for a 0.16 increase did not pass when negative votes in the four out-lying communities overpowered support downtown.
The current five-year levy of 1.12 mill will be increased for seven years to 1.47 mill. This will allow the system to order 17 new buses and hire 52 new drivers. The equipment and staff increases will be used to support service improvements and the implementation of a high-speed bus line. The levy is expected to raise about $15.6 million a year to enable the improvement projects to be made gradually over the next five years.
High Support 5-Year Old System's First Renewal
BENZIE BUS IN MI TO CONTINUE OPERATING
After five years of service, Benzie Bus asked voters in Benzie County, MI to renew and restore a 0.5 mill levy to continue operations. A dramatic 75% of voters gave approval for the renewal. This is particularly significant considering that the August 2006 measure that first created Benzie Bus was only approved by 58% of voters. In just five years, this system has been able to give over 250,000 rides and convince three-quarters of voters of the value and service it provides.
The renewal is expected to generate about $540,000 per year, which is needed to support the $1.5 million annual operating budget. In 2009 and 2010, Benzie Bus benefited from $3 million in federal stimulus grants that enabled the system to a build a new headquarters, bus garage, dispatch center, and purchase eight fuel-efficient buses.
The campaign run by Friends of Benzie Bus had a large social media presence on Facebook and maintained a website of useful and updated information for advocates (http://benziebusyes.org/). The accomplishments of the system, details on its financial status and the positive impacts it provides for the community were summarized in a two-page fact sheet that encouraged voters to head to the polls on May 3.
|Benzie County||MI||Renewal and Restoration of a 0.5 mill levy to support Benzie Bus||75%-25%|
|Holland||MI||Renewal of a 0.4 mill levy to support to operations of the Macatawa Area Express bus system||76%-24%|
|Grand Haven Township||MI||A 0.95 mill levy increase for Harbor Transit and road/bridge investment||59%-41%|
|Grand Rapids||MI||A 35 mill levy increase to expand bus service across The Rapid system||50.2%-49.8%|
|Kalkaska County||MI||Renewal of a five-year, 0.25-mill levy for the county's public transit authority||72%-28%|
|Stark County||OH||Renewal of a 0.25 percent sales tax for Stark Area Regional Transit Authority bus service||66%-34%|