The two sides of Hamlin public transportation

November 12, 2013

hamlin transportationBy Carrie Klemm. MCP Correspondent.

LUDINGTON – The Committee for Hamlin Transportation, also known as Hamlin Rides met at the Ludington Senior Center this morning to discuss bringing public transportation to Hamlin Township. Clark Harder, executive director of the Michigan Public Transit Association spoke at the meeting, providing detailed information on the steps necessary to become an effective coalition.

The Ludington Mass Transit Association currently serves the City of Ludington, City of Scottville and Pere Marquette Charter Township. Hamlin Rides is seeking voter approval for a millage to expand transportation to include Hamlin Township.

Similar proposals have been added to the ballot in the past and have been voted down. According to Mason County Clerk Jim Riffle, in Nov. 2006, a county-wide vote was turned down in Hamlin, with 807 yes to 851 no. A second vote, concerning only Hamlin was added to the ballot in August of 2008 and was opposed, 305 yes to 395 no. Harder explains that historically, only about 25% of all first time millage proposals in Michigan pass but issues continue to be proposed because the need never goes away.

Barry Matthews, a Hamlin Township resident for over 30 years, has been a part of the committee since it formed in 2011. Matthews’ support in the matter derives from his own inability to drive the 4.5 miles from his home to Ludington due to vision loss.

“This country was founded on promoting the welfare of our neighbors,” Matthews said. “I was raised with the idea that neighbors help neighbors.” Matthews volunteers as a court appointed special advocate for abused children in the county and says a transportation service would make it much easier for him to get to where he needs to go, rather than inconveniencing his wife who is not always able to provide transportation.

Also present was Bob McLain, who has resided in his Hamlin Township home for over 23 years and opposes the proposal due to increased property taxes. McLain says he believes in the American dream.

“I believe in capitalism. If someone works hard all of their life and is able to provide for themselves a decent living, they shouldn’t have to pay for those who do not. I would not expect anyone to have to pay for me.” McLain has taken disabled relatives into his home to assist them  with every day life. He embraces community and helping fellow neighbors, but strongly believes a tax increase should not be forced upon Hamlin Twp. residents.

Dick Collins, director of LMTA, was available for questions, though it was made clear he cannot openly promote or discourage the proposal. “The cost of the millage will depend on what Hamlin Township decides is necessary transportation and then an appropriate amount will be levied,” Collins said.

The 2013 budget for Hamlin Township, as assessed in 2010, allotted for $160,000 in local share for public transportation, Collins said. This amount was based on Monday through Friday service from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Since beginning operations in 1974, LMTA has never raised a millage.

 

LMTA does offer the option to commission a bus into Hamlin Township at a cost of $50 per hour. Also available county wide is Ludington Taxi which currently charges $4 for the first mile, then $3 for each mile after.

Currently, Hamlin Rides is informing citizens through a grassroots effort. Future development plans include more opportunities for public education on the issue and eventually, a public forum, though dates and times have yet to be arranged. Members of the committee hope to see the proposal on the August, 2014 ballot. In order for a proposal to be added to the ballot, it must be approved and presented by the township at least 60 days in advance.

“There is a minority of people who advocate public transportation in Hamlin Township and there is a minority of people who strongly oppose the proposal,” Matthews said. “The majority of residents in Hamlin lie in between, and may not be informed. Hamlin Rides is working to expand awareness.”

For more information regarding the proposal, visit www.hamlinrides.org.

Opposing parties do not have a coalition at this time. “I am not going to ask for money to support a coalition to stop tax increases,” McLain said, adding that he will be organizing a meeting of solidarity for those who oppose the proposition. For more information opposing the proposal, visit the Facebook page, Hamlin Township vs. Public Transportation.

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