Those tax-and-spend liberals seem to have gained the upper hand in Tuesday’s crop of millages across the region. Nothing like a little bit (OK, a lot) of fiscal austerity from the state government to remind voters why they pay taxes.
The margins were pretty impressive locally. Pittsfield Township approved a public safety millage, with 72% of the votes in favour. A special education millage for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District — the only item on the ballot in my precinct — did even better, 77% in favour.
While I don’t much write about west Michigan — Grand Rapids isn’t that much closer to me than Chicago, Columbus, or Cleveland — I took a keen interest in the bus millage that was on the ballot there, especially since it would finance what is, to my knowledge, the first bus rapid transit in Michigan. It ended up barely squeaking through. According to MLive,
The millage passed in Grand Rapids and East Grand Rapids. The majority of voters in the surrounding cities who cast ballots were against it…
The transit millage will pay for extending service later into the evening on most routes, expanding some routes, decreasing wait times between buses, and operating the Silver Line high-speed bus line on Division Avenue.
The improvements will be made gradually over the next five years with the full millage levy eventually raising $15.6 million a year. One-third of the millage increase will go toward operating the Silver Line route…
I think it will be interesting to see the effects of BRT in its service area. While less glamorous than rail, it strikes me as a particularly appropriate and cost-effective option for certain parts of Southeast Michigan, which is such a dispersed and multi-nodal region, and one which deserves more consideration from planners, policymakers and transit advocates than it has received.