The Bay Area Transportation Authority is asking for more money to expand its bus system in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties. BATA has put a millage proposal on the ballot May 2.
If it passes, the millage rate would go up from .3447 to .5 mill for five years. BATA officials say the tax would raise an additional $1.1 million next year. People who own a home worth $200,000 would pay $16 more per year than they do now.
A BATA spokesman says the money would allow BATA to expand its bus network and buy new buses, among other improvements.
Matt Moritz of Traverse City supports the measure. He spoke at a forum about the millage hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Grand Traverse Area on Thursday night.
Moritz has been riding BATA in his wheelchair for years.
“It allows me to be … almost 100 percent independent,” Moritz says. “You know like taking me to the doctor’s, taking me to the mall. Anywhere you want to go.”
Heather Cerone of Traverse City is campaigning against the measure through a group called the Alliance for Economic Freedom. She also attended the forum.
Cerone says homeowners in northern Michigan are already taxed enough.
“I’m hearing from lots of people … a lot of senior citizens that are on fixed incomes that cannot afford another increase,” Cerone says. “And BATA is just another one looking for another slice of the pie from the taxpayers.”
The millage request is both a renewal and an increase. BATA has not put a millage on the ballot since 2011.
BATA’s annual budget is $7.4 million, which comes from federal, state and local sources.