At its regular monthly meeting on Feb. 20, 2014, the board of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority will vote on the question of placing a 0.7 mill request on the May 6, 2014 ballot.
The recommendation to place the item on the board’s agenda came in action taken by the planning and development committee at its Feb. 11 meeting. Voting unanimously at the meeting to recommend the ballot question to the full board on Feb. 20 were: Sue Gott, Larry Krieg, Eli Cooper and Eric Mahler.
The millage would pay for a set of service improvements over a period of five years. Those improvements include increased frequency during peak hours, extended service in the evenings, and additional service on weekends. Some looped routes are being replaced with out-and-back type route configurations. The plan does not include operation of rail-based services. The AAATA has calculated that the improvements in service add up to 90,000 additional service hours per year, compared to the current service levels, which is a 44% increase.
If a millage were approved in May, those improvements that involve extending the hours of service later in the evening and the weekend could begin to be implemented by late 2014. However, increases in frequency along routes, which would require acquisition of additional buses, would take longer.
The planning and development committee took its action after receiving a presentation of results from a survey of registered voters in late 2013. The survey results show that 63% of those surveyed would definitely or probably support a millage.
If the board votes on Feb. 20 to put the question on the ballot, a majority of voters in the city of Ann Arbor, the city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township would need to approve it. Those three jurisdictions are members of the AAATA.
The city of Ann Arbor (pop. ~116,000), the city of Ypsilanti (pop. ~19,500) and Ypsilanti Township (pop. ~53,000) make up a bit more than half the population of Washtenaw County (pop. ~351,000).
The Feb. 20 meeting, like all AAATA board meetings, will be held at the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S. Fifth Ave., in the fourth floor boardroom. Meetings start at 6:30 p.m. and offer two-minute time slots for public commentary at the start of the meeting. Meetings are not broadcast live on the Community Television Network, but are recorded and rebroadcast later. The meetings are also available online through CTN’s video on demand service.
Updated: The AAATA board packet, released Feb. 14, 2014 includes the proposed ballot language as well as the issue analysis by staff. [.pdf of ballot question material for Feb. 20 board packet] The proposed ballot language in the packet is:
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT MILLAGE
For the purpose of making improvements to public transportation, using buses, van pools and paratransit services, for the elderly, the disabled, and the general population of the City of Ann Arbor, the City of Ypsilanti, and the Charter Township of Ypsilanti, including increasing service hours, routes, and destinations, shall the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority impose a new annual tax of 0.7 mills ($0.70 per $1000 of taxable value) on all taxable property within those municipalities for the years 2014-2018 inclusive, with the revenue to be disbursed to the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority? The estimate of revenue if this millage is approved is $4,368,847.00 for 2014.
The existing taxes levied by the cities of Ann Arbor and would stay in place if voters in the AAATA’s three-jurisdiction area approved a new 0.7 mill tax, levied by the AAATA. For Ann Arbor, the rate for the existing millage is 2.056 mills, which is expected to generate a little over $10 million by 2019, the fifth year of the transportation improvement plan. For the city of Ypsilanti, the rate for the existing transit millage is 0.9789, which is expected to generate about $314,000 in 2019. For the owner of an Ann Arbor house with a market value of $200,000 and taxable value of $100,000, a 0.7 mill tax translates into $70 annually, which would be paid in addition to the existing transit millage. If the millage were to pass the total Ann Arbor transit tax paid on a taxable value of $100,000 would be about $270 a year.