Ypsilanti City Council approves placing transportation millage on November ballot
A charter amendment that would provide a dedicated source of funding for public transportation in Ypsilanti will be on the Nov. 2 ballot.
The City Council voted unanimously to approve the resolution, following a 3-3 vote to table the resolution until after the Aug. 3 primary.
Council members decided in May to ask voters to approve amending the city charter and to designate 0.9879 mills to help pay for bus service from the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority.
The issue was to be decided on the Aug. 3 ballot, but state Attorney General Mike Cox's office said the language contained 102 words, while the maximum is 100 words. Cox’s office also said charter amendments couldn't be decided in primaries.
The question will still appear on the Aug. 3 ballot, but the results won't count.
Before council approved the language for the November election, members debated whether to wait until after the primary to see what the results will be. The deadline to file the language with the county is Aug. 24, and the council meets next on Aug. 17.
Mayor Paul Schreiber, Mayor Pro-Tem Trudy Swanson-Winston and Council Member Bill Nickels voted against the motion to table the measure until after the primary. Council Member Pete Murdock, Council Member, Mike Bodary and Council Member Brian Robb wanted to table the issue. Council Member Lois Richardson was absent.
Robb said the results of the August vote could provide insight on how voters feel about the issue. He said the language could be adjusted if necessary and called the primary results “an incredible data point.” He also said the council could decide against putting the issue in front of voters if it was overwhelmingly defeated in August.
“As a council person, I think its important to make the most informed decision we can make, and we would have had much more information after our dry run election,” Robb said.
“You want to look at everything, and I think in some ways (the first vote) would give us a tremendous advantage,” he said. “This gives us a dry run and we are going to figure out if this is what the citizens want.”
Schreiber disagreed the city will have more information that would affect the ballot language.
“I don’t see what the possible reasoning for tabling it would be,” he said. “On November 2, we have a much bigger population. If it fails, we have to do a better job, but it’s a totally different election between August 3 and November 2.”
The proposal would restore the city’s ability to capture 20 mills instead of the 19.0211 maximum allowed per the Headlee Amendment. That would equate to an additional $281,000 for public transportation in 2011, which now comes out of the general fund.
Residents whose homes have a taxable value of $100,000 would pay $97.89 more annually.
Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for AnnArbor.ccom. Reach the news desk at email@example.com or 734-623-2530.