City council approves extension on agreement

DOWAGIAC — An agreement for local transportation was extended Monday by a vote of the city council.

During Monday’s City Council meeting, council members voted to approve a resolution to authorize an extension of an agreement with Cass County Transportation Authority for Dial-A-Ride services within the city of Dowagiac.

DART, which has provided transportation services to residents of Dowagiac since 1975, offers a 24-hour advance reservation curb to curb service. DART is a demand response service, meaning that customers must call and request a ride rather than the buses maintaining regular routes. In addition to providing coverage within city limits, drivers also provide coverage to residents and businesses one mile outside them, including to Southwestern Michigan College.

In 2015, DART entered into a partnership with the Cass County Transportation Authority, which now handles many of the day-to-day operations, including dispatch and vehicle maintenance and storage. 

City Manager Kevin Anderson said the resolution to extend the agreement was routine.

“This has worked well for both [the city council and the Cass County Transpiration Authority],” he said.

However, Anderson did add that it may be time for the city to consider a millage to continue to fund transportation services due to declines in revenues from state and federal sources.

“These things don’t pay for themselves,” he said. “We looked at a millage a couple years ago, and it may be coming up to a time to have that conversation again, just because of the negative cash flow that comes from these services.”

Mayor Don Lyons reminded the council Monday that the agreement has strong opt out provisions, which allows the city to not be bound to the agreement, should council members decide the agreement has become inappropriate.

“If for some reason the Cass County Transportation Authority runs into trouble, we can opt out,” he said.

The agreement extension was unanimously approved by all present council members Monday.

Also Monday:

• The city council approved a resolution to authorize an agreement for engineering services for water system improvements with Wightman for $141,000.

• The city council approved an event request for the citywide Christmas open house weekend. The event will take place Nov. 9-11. The weekend is being sponsored by Borgess Lee Memorial Hospital and the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce. In addition to holiday shopping, the event will feature vocal, instrumental and dance performances at Beckwith Park, horse drawn carriage rides and a Theta Mu Sorority craft show.

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