The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors endorses the millage proposal from the Bay Area Transportation Authority going before voters in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties on Tuesday, May 2.
Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
BATA is seeking voter approval of a 0.5-mill property tax levy for the next five years to help fund operations. The half-mill proposal would replace BATA’s current millage levy of 0.3447 mills that expires in December. It’s the first millage increase that’s been sought by BATA in 14 years.
“The Chamber’s Board of Directors recognizes the importance and economic benefit of continuing to provide and expand transportation services in our community. The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce supports BATA’s millage request and strongly encourages a “yes” vote on May 2,” Board Chair Bonnie Alfonso said.
BATA provides some 500,000 rides a year in its two-county service area, which covers more than 900 square miles. BATA officials noted the millage is necessitated by a reduction in federal transportation dollars, a need to upgrade its aging bus fleet, along with implementing various service upgrades including increased stops and shorter wait times on its fixed service routes, technology upgrades, increased connections top Traverse City from outlying areas and improvements to its park-and-ride system.
Officials said local millage revenue and bus fares combine for about 44 percent of BATA’s $7.4 million annual operating budget, with 38 percent from the state Department of Transportation and 18 percent from federal funds. The half-mill levy would cost the owner of a $200,000 home with a taxable value of $100,000 some $50 a year.
In supporting the request, Chamber board members noted that BATA is a critical service for the region’s business community as it provides transportation services to thousands of area workers each year. It also helps address the community’s growing traffic issues by providing public transportation, its park and ride services and moving residents and visitors during high-attendance events like the National Cherry Festival and Traverse City Film Festival.