Voters asked to renew public transportation millagesPublished 10:50am Friday, August 1, 2014
Linda McLane sat on a bench inside the Niles Dial-A-Ride bus station Wednesday afternoon. On the floor beside her was her service dog — a 10-year-old golden retriever named Disney.
McLane is blind, so she is unable to drive a vehicle.
Instead of relying on family and friends, she has been using Niles’ public transportation as her primary means to get around for more than 30 years.
“I don’t know what I’d do without it,” she said. “It is important to me to get out on my own and to be independent. I think people that drive sometimes take it for granted. When you can’t do something, there is something missing.”
On Tuesday, Niles voters will be asked to renew a millage that will provide funding for Niles Dial-A-Ride and continue to support those who rely up on it, like McLane.
According to Evan Smith, general manager of Niles Dial-A-Ride, 75 percent of passengers in the last quarter were either senior citizens or people with disabilities.
“One out of three people in this state are too old, too young or physically unable to drive,” Smith said. “That is why public transit is so important.”
If the proposal passes, the City of Niles will be authorized to renew and levy up to 50 cents per thousand dollars — or .5 mills — on the taxable value on all taxable property in the city for the purpose of providing public transportation. It is a two-year levy. Because it is a renewal, taxes will not increase.
The renewal would generate about $97,000 a year for Dial-A-Ride.
“This millage makes up about 15 percent of our annual budget. However, the availability of local funds provides us with matching dollars that we use to secure state and federal grant funding,” Smith said. “We are celebrating our 40 year anniversary of serving the people of Niles. Hopefully the voters continue to support us and we can provide service for another 40 years.”
Buchanan voters will also be asked to renew a millage Tuesday for their public transportation service.
Buchanan’s millage renewal is for one mill, or $1 per each $1,000 dollars on the taxable value of all taxable property in the city. The millage would generate approximately $84,953 for Buchanan Dial-A-Ride. It is a four-year millage.