SMART Funding Increase to be on August Ballot

SMART Funding Increase to be on August BallotJudyPalmer01

(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 3, 2014)

Residents of Oakland County will decide on Aug. 5 if SMART should receive taxpayer funding. County Commissioners voted to put a 1-mil rate on the ballot, an increase over the .59 millage rate of years past.

On average, the additional millage would cost a homeowner $70 per year for a home worth $180,keith dalton ad000. That can help keep many riders employed or, for seniors and minors, able to get to doctors, schools and activities.

There has been “no attempt since 2002 to increase rates,” said transit advocated Patricia Hammer. “Property values have declined leading to a loss of revenue. The result is an aging fleet and cutbacks in service.”

Hammer spoke in the public comment portion of the April 20 County seed010_eric_dickersonCommission meeting. As a member of the Moses Transportation Taskforce, Hammer is increasing awareness about public transit, including the SMART bus system. “As a longtime resident of Birmingham and a member of a church located along Woodward Avenue in Bloomfield Hills, I’m well-placed to appreciate the value of having an effectively-run public transit system, and to recognize the inefficiencies resulting from the municipal opt out policies in Oakland County.”

Another Moses member Eunice Rose waterworkof Southfield stated “As important as it is for workers to get to their job, wherever they may be, it’s equally important for suburban businesses and homeowners to be able to have a workforce available to work for them.”

The vote passed 13-6, meaning the issue will be on the Aug. 5 primary ballot. Voters in Wayne and Macomb County will also have the issue before them.

SMART serves around 35,000 riders in the three counties.

“We are pleased that each of the Countyessential Commissions is giving their constituents the opportunity to vote in August,” said John C. Hertel, General Manager, “SMART provides an important service to the region by helping tens of thousands of people everyday get to work, school, medical appointments and shopping.”

A SMART press release goes on to state that “The SMART millage proposal is for 1.0 mill, an increase of .41 mills. Due to declining property values SMART lost nearly $50 million in revenue since 2008. In addition, 80 percent of SMART’s fleet is in need of replacement with each bus having more than 500,000 miles, exceeding the Federal Transit Administrations useful life guidelines. The Authority has made $11 million in budget adjustments by reducing Administrative costs through wage cuts, furlough days, layoffs, eliminating all discretionary budgets, and implementing $6 million in cuts through union negotiations.”

Learn more about SMART at www.smartbus.org.

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