Stories indexed with the term ‘survey’

Survey: Majority Favorable on Transit Tax

Results of a survey of 841 registered voters in the city of Ann Arbor, the city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township show a 63% positive reaction to a possible additional transit tax in those communities. Those three jurisdictions are the members of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. [.pdf of Feb. 7, 2014 press release] [.pdf of survey questions]

Fall 2013 AAATA Survey: Of the 841 registered voters surveyed, 63% said they would definitely or probably vote for an additional transit tax, while 31% said they definitely or probably vote against an additional transit tax.

Chart 1: AAATA Millage Vote Survey. Of the 841 registered voters surveyed, 63% said they would definitely or probably vote for an additional transit tax, while 31% said they definitely or probably would vote against an additional transit tax. Half the respondents were asked about a tax at the rate of 0.5 mills while the other half were asked about a 0.9 mill tax. There was not a significant difference in the two groups. The amount of the potential millage request in 2014 is 0.7 mills.

The AAATA’s release of partial survey results on Feb. 7 comes about two weeks before the next monthly meeting of its board of directors, on Feb. 20. At that meeting, the board will almost certainly consider whether to place a millage on the ballot – either for May 6 or later in the fall of this year.

The purpose of the potential millage – which would be the first one ever levied by the AAATA – would be to fund a 5-year plan of service improvements, approved by the AAATA board at its Jan. 16, 2014 meeting. The millage itself would last for five years.

Generally, 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 AAATA refers to the plan in its communications as the 5YTIP. The AAATA has calculated that the additional tax required to fund the 5YTIP is 0.7 mills. A draft five-year plan was presented to the public in a series of 13 meetings in the fall of 2013. Changes to the five-year plan made in response to public feedback were included in the board’s information packet for the Jan. 16 meeting. [.pdf of memo and 5-year improvement plan] [.pdf of presentation made to the board on Jan. 16]

The dedicated transit tax already paid by property owners in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti is levied by each city and passed through to the AAATA. Those taxes would stay in place if voters in the AAATA’s three-jurisdiction area approved a 0.7 mill tax. 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. The total Ann Arbor transit tax paid on a taxable value of $100,000 would be about $270 a year.

The transit improvement program also calls for an additional $1,087,344 to come from purchase-of-service agreements (POSAs), based on increased service hours in Pittsfield, Saline, and Superior townships.

A subset of a financial task force that had formed during an effort in 2012 to expand the AAATA to a countywide authority has concluded that the 0.7 mill would be adequate to fund the planned additional services. At the most recent meeting of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, on Feb. 5, DDA board member Bob Guenzel stated that he had continued to participate on that task force, and reported that the group had forwarded its finding on the currently contemplated 0.7 millage to the AAATA.

Besides Guenzel, who is former Washtenaw County administrator, the current configuration of that group includes Mary Jo Callan (director of the Washtenaw County office of community and economic development), Norman Herbert (former treasurer of the University of Michigan), Paul Krutko (CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK), and Mark Perry (director of real estate services, Masco Corp.) and Steve Manchester.

The survey on voter attitudes toward a millage was conducted for the AAATA by CJI Research with a mixed methodology – of telephone contacts, and a mail invitation to respond online – during October and November of 2013. The sample of respondents was divided into two groups – those who were asked about their attitudes toward an additional 0.5-mill tax and those who were asked about their attitudes toward an additional 0.9-mill tax. According to CJI, the groups showed virtually no difference in the distribution of responses.

Of the 841 registered voters surveyed, 63% said they would definitely or probably vote for an additional transit tax, while 31% said they definitely or probably would vote against an additional transit tax.

The Feb. 7, 2014 press release issued by the AAATA highlighted three of its conclusions from the survey results: (1) that the AAATA is highly regarded by voters in the three member jurisdictions; (2) residents in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township are supportive of transit service expansion even if it means a new tax; and (3) among survey respondents, the best reasons to support a transit expansion are to help retain and attract jobs, generate economic activity by taking customers and workers to area retailers and other employers, and to improve service for seniors and the disabled. The margin of error for the survey was no more than 3.4%, according to the press release. [Full Story]

Survey Helps Downtown Library Planning

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (April 16, 2012): As previously reported by The Chronicle, a new survey commissioned by the Ann Arbor District Library indicates voter support for a tax increase to pay for major renovations or reconstruction of the downtown building at 343 S. Fifth Ave.

Downtown Ann Arbor library building at 343 S. Fifth Ave.

View of the downtown Ann Arbor library building at 343 S. Fifth Ave., from the corner of Fifth and William. The orange cones are tied to construction of what's tentatively called the Library Lane parking structure, being built by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. Library staff and board members are again discussing whether to renovate or rebuild this main library location. (Photos by the writer.)

At the board’s April meeting on Monday, AADL director Josie Parker summarized results of the phone survey, which was conducted in early March by the Lansing firm EPIC-MRA. It included 400 responses. She noted that the library’s five-year strategic plan, approved by the board in 2010, includes an initiative related to the downtown building.

The survey indicated that if a vote were taken today – on funding a $65 million renovation or new construction project with a property tax increase of 0.69 mills – 45% of survey respondents would vote yes, and another 15% would lean toward a yes vote. That compares with a total of 37% who said they would either vote no or lean toward no.

Support was even stronger among survey respondents for scaled-back options with lower tax increases. [.pdf of survey results]

“This is a beginning, but it’s a very positive beginning after a long four years,” Parker said, referring to the board’s decision in 2008 to halt redevelopment of the downtown building because of faltering economic conditions.

Later in the meeting, the board voted unanimously to appoint a three-member special facilities committee, charged with making recommendations to the full board.

The April 16 meeting also included a presentation of the draft 2012-2013 budget, for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012. The budget is based on levying 1.55 mills – unchanged from the current levy, but below the 1.92 mills that the district is authorized to collect.

The budget anticipates tax revenues of $11.203 million for fiscal 2012-13, representing a 1% increase in tax revenues compared to the current projection of $11.091 million for fiscal 2011-12. The overall FY 2012-13 budget revenues – including tax revenue, state aid and other revenue sources – is $12.254 million, compared to the current budget of $12.191 million.

The board is expected to vote on the budget at its May 21 meeting. That meeting is also expected to include a public hearing on the budget, as well as a formal director’s evaluation and renewal of a space use agreement with the Friends of the AADL, which operates a used bookstore in the downtown library’s lower level. [Full Story]

AATA Releases Final Survey Reports

A few hours before a public drop-in session scheduled for 4-7 p.m. on March 2, 2012 in the Ann Arbor city council chambers, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority released final documents in connection with a survey of Washtenaw County voters conducted in late 2011. An overview of the survey results had been presented at the AATA board’s Feb. 16, 2012 board meeting.

Asked toward the start of the interview if they would support a 1 mill tax for countywide transit, 54% of respondents to the survey said they definitely or probably would. Asked the same question toward the end of the interview, after receiving additional information, that figure nudged upward to 59%. That compares with “before” and “after” percentages of … [Full Story]

AATA Survey: Slim Majority Supports Tax

At its Feb. 16, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board received an overview presentation of the results from a survey of Washtenaw County registered voters about their attitudes towards paying additional taxes to support transportation countywide.

On a key question about survey respondents’ inclination to support a 1 mill property tax, asked towards the beginning of the survey, 54% answered that they would definitely or probably support such a tax. [On  a similar question asked on a similar survey in 2009, 51% of respondents across Washtenaw County answered that they would definitely or probably support a 1 mill additional property tax to support transportation. One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value.]

Asked a similar question … [Full Story]

AATA OKs Voter/Rider Survey Contract

At its Aug. 24, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board authorized a three-year contract with with CJI Research Corporation to conduct survey research. The contract has two additional one-year options.

Of the three respondents to the AATA’s RFP, the one from CJI was the top-rated proposal with respect the criteria: price, experience, and technical approach. CJI was the firm that conducted the AATA’s most recent on-board and telephone surveys in 2009.

CJI has experience with polling for ballot initiatives. That experience is significant, because at some point it’s expected that a proposal will be put before voters across Washtenaw County that would levy a transit tax. The draft fiscal year 2012 budget for AATA includes $75,000 for an on-board survey of riders and a telephone survey of Washtenaw County voters.

This brief was filed from the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library, where the AATA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]

AATA Board Treasurer: Where’s My Report?

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Feb. 17, 2010): Although little business was transacted by the board during Wednesday’s meeting, members engaged in what David Nacht called a “healthy conversation” on the subject of the treasurer’s report. At issue was whether the agenda should contain a slot for the report.

Ted Annis Jesse Bernstein

At left: Ted Annis, AATA board treasurer, and board member Jesse Bernstein, right. (Photos by the writer.)

The discussion began with a gentle ribbing of the board’s treasurer, Ted Annis, who was asked: “Have your feelings been hurt?” It ended, however, with a serious philosophical discussion about the difference between a body consisting of appointed board members compared to one composed of elected officials.

Over the next few months, the board will begin a conversation in earnest to change its meeting location to the Ann Arbor District Library and its time to Thursday evenings.

A development not explicitly discussed at the board meeting, but nonetheless connected to it, is the fact that the AATA will begin providing board packets in their native digital text – until now, the documents have been available in electronic form, but only as image scans. [Full Story]

AATA on County Transit: READY, Aim, Fire

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Jan. 20, 2010): Board member Jesse Bernstein outlined a process Wednesday night for moving towards an expanded countywide transit service, which he characterized as “ready, aim, fire” – with a heavy emphasis on “ready.” A resolution passed by the board on Wednesday establishes a timeframe that would not begin the implementation phase of a plan until the beginning of 2011.

Jesse Bernstein

Jesse Bernstein, who chairs the AATA board's performance monitoring and external relations committee, outlined a plan for expanding service that sees the next six months devoted to making the organization more transparent and gathering information from the community. (Photos by the writer.)

The emphasis on community engagement and listening to the needs and wants of the people who might use an expanded service – before trying to design the specifics of the service – would not be something confined to this particular initiative. Said Bernstein: “This is not a one-shot campaign; this is how we’re going to behave going forward.”

The board adopted a resolution to advance their plan for the future of public transportation in the county.

The board also heard a presentation on the results of a survey of voter attitudes towards a possible transit millage in Washtenaw County. The survey measured support of a millage at 51% – with 17% and 34% of voters saying they’d definitely or probably vote yes, respectively.

In other business, the board adopted its capital and categorical grant program, approved a contract to replace some doors and windows at AATA headquarters, authorized an application to the Michigan Department of Transportation and approved a 21-month purchase-of-service agreement with the city of Ypsilanti. [Full Story]

Citizen Survey from The Chronicle Still Open

Ann Arbor Survey

Citizen Survey from The Ann Arbor Chronicle. Take it.

Two weeks ago, we made available an online survey asking for perspectives from people on a variety of topics. We’d like to encourage readers who have not done so already to take this survey.

We encourage readers who have already taken the survey to share the link with others. To that end, we’ve added a widget at the top of the survey itself to facilitate the flinging of the survey through various online communities. [Full Story]

Survey Says …

Ann Arbor survey

A few months ago we wrote about developing an online citizen survey here at The Chronicle, and wrote confidently: “We’ll launch the survey on Jan. 1, 2009.”

Happy New Year.

With input from several readers on topics and wording, we’ve put together a final draft. Here’s the survey link for readers who’d like to get started right now. For others, here’s a couple of notes about how it’s set up. [Full Story]