Voters in Ann Arbor and both the city and township of Ypsilanti overwhelmingly approved a millage increase for the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (AAATA) Tuesday.
With all precincts reporting in a light turnout of 12.74%, the proposal to increase property taxes 0.7 mill to improve bus service earned 13,949 yes votes (70.69%) to 5,783 no votes (29.31%).
Other millage proposals being voted on in Washtenaw County did not fare as well, as two school millage proposals went down to defeat while one millage was renewed.
The measure, which will take effect in July, will raise $4.4 million the first year last until 2018. It will pay for expanded service hours, including weekdays, nights, and weekends, more direct service through redesigned routes, increased service frequency, more destinations, and better services for seniors and people who have disabilities. According to WEMU, those changes translate into a 44 percent increase in service hours. The service improvements will begin this August.
Mike Garfield, director of the Ecology Center and one of the leaders of the More Buses campaign, who campaigned for the millage increase was quoted by the Ann Arbor News. "This vote marks a watershed moment for our region. Voters have made an emphatic statement in support of seniors, people with disabilities, workers, and the environment — and in support of the value of public transportation in moving our community forward."
Both WEMU and the Ann Arbor News reported that Better Transit Now, which opposed the millage increase, could not be reached for comment.
Not only did the proposal have overwhelming overall approval, it had widespread support. The measure won in 54 of 56 precincts, losing narrowly in only two precincts in rural southern Ypsilanti Township.
Three school districts with portions of their service area in Washtenaw County, Stockbridge, Pinckney, and Clinton, also held millage and bond proposal elections Tuesday. Only Clinton Community Schools had their proposal approved.
Voters turned down the bond proposal for Stockbridge Community Schools, which would have allowed the school district to borrow up to $18,100,000 and levy a millage of 2.95 mills in 2014 and up to 4.4 mills for 20 years thereafter. The bulk of the district lies in Ingham County, where the measure was defeated 717 (52.34%) to 653 (47.66%). It also lost in the Jackson County portion of the district 231 (56.90%) to 175 (43.10%). The one precinct in Washtenaw County voted against the measure 37 to 29 (56.06% to 43.94%). Only in Livingston County did the measure have any support, leading there 95 to 74, which was not enough to put it over the top, as the total no votes among all four counties were 1059 no to 952 yes.
Pinckney Community Schools millage also failed with 1043 votes yes to 1379 votes no. That measure would have raised property taxes by 0.3 mill to fund playgrounds and public recreation.
Clinton Community Schools merely asked to renew a millage that expired last year. It passed overwhelmingly with 206 yes (83.40%) to 41 no (16.60%).