LMTA considering Amber Twp. transit millage.

March 27, 2018

LMTA considering Amber Twp. transit millage.

#MasonCountyNews.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — The Ludington Mass Transit Authority may consider asking the voters of Amber Township to add the service to their township next year. Amber Township’s supervisor said he is doubtful such a millage would pass and that the bus service is not providing adequate service to its existing riders.

During its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, the LMTA board discussed the results of a survey recently conducted by Michigan State University in Amber and Hamlin townships.

The survey revealed that 70% of the respondents from Amber Township support public transit while 59% of Hamlin Township respondents support it; collectively 62% of the total respondents support public transit. However, the survey also showed that only 52% of the Amber Township respondents and 46% of Hamlin Township respondents would be willing to pay additional property taxes for public transit, leading LMTA to consider only requesting a millage from Amber Township.

Board member Sue Begue said a committee tasked at reviewing the survey results determined that the best course of action was to request a separate millage from Amber Township. By law, LMTA must ask for the same millage rate, 1.25 mills, as the other two communities that are part of the authority, the City of Ludington and the City of Scottville. Pere Marquette Charter Township contracts the authority for service and pays a rate of .3.

Amber Township Supervisor Jim Gallie attended the meeting, along with Amber trustees Richard Alway and Tom Alway. Gallie said he did not believe the residents of Amber Township would support a millage. He also said he believes LMTA is not properly servicing its current taxpayers by not allowing residents of Scottville, Pere Marquette, and Ludington to be dropped off and picked up at Amber Township businesses located on US 10, an area known locally as “the corridor”.

Up until 2015, LMTA would offer service to and from Ludington, Scottville, and Pere Marquette Township, to the Amber Township corridor from Meyers Road (just east of Wal-Mart) to the Scottville city limits.

Chairman Karen Nielsen said LMTA was losing up to $68,000 a year by offering the service.

“If your residents want to come out to Amber Township, then raise the rates to get them out there,” Gallie said. “Almost nobody in Amber Township wants to ride the bus.”

“All we’re asking is for your residents to have a choice,” Nielsen said. “Let’s have a democratic vote. If they say no, then the issue is done.”

The 1.25 mills from Amber Township would generate about $110,000. Currently, Ludington taxpayers contribute $259,582 and Scottville taxpayers contribute $20,833. Pere Marquette Township paid $140,000 in 2017.

LMTA Director Dick Collins said Michigan State University was contacted for the survey because it would be able to conduct it objectively. MSU sent 1,992 random survey to Amber and Hamlin townships; the breakdown of how many were sent to each township is unknown. The US Census Bureau estimates the 2016 population of Hamlin Township was 3,416 and Amber Township was 2,537. Of the surveys sent out, 174 were undeliverable, therefore 1,818 were actually delivered; 253 were returned from Amber and 520 were returned from Hamlin, a total of 703 or 37 percent.

Gallie suggested that if LMTA were going to request a millage from additional communities that it consider asking for all the other communities in Mason County.

“I realize that there are those who need a ride at some time,” Gallie said. “If you are concerned about the public, let’s be concerned about all the public. Why aren’t you looking at Victory Township or Custer?”

Nielsen said LMTA was approached by residents of Hamlin and Amber townships, which is why it was concentrating on those two townships.

Nielson said the board will make a decision about requesting a ballot proposal during its April meeting. It is likely going to place the issue on the May 2019 ballot. LMTA would cover the cost of the election, estimated at $12,000.

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