August 8 (Detroit, MI)--In an unprecedented vote of support, the 23 participating communities overwhelmingly approved the SMART public transit millage. With 79 percent approval, SMART will continue to serve these Oakland County communities providing fixed route, Connector and local Community Transit service. In 2010, Oakland County voters passed the millage with a 78 percent approval. The participating communities have always supported SMART since the first millage was placed on the ballot in 1995.
“We are pleased with the margin of support we received from the voters of Oakland County,” said John C. Hertel, general manager, “We will continue to provide the type of service that will further support their confidence in SMART.”
The SMART public transit millage was renewal of its .59 mil tax millage for two years. With funding secured for two more years, SMART will maintain current levels of SMART fixed routes, Connector and funding for local Community Transit services. In 2014, all three counties will vote again on the SMART public transit millage.
Over the past several years, SMART has been dealing with declining revenues due to decreasing property values. Since 2009, with 24 percent less revenue from the millage, SMART took steps to cut expenses and reduce costs as well as increase fares making $11 million in budget adjustments. In December 2011, SMART had to cut service by 22 percent in order to balance its budget which is required by law. It was a last resort, yet SMART still provides $2.63 worth of service for every $1 collected through the millage in Oakland County.
Millage tax revenues are not paid directly to SMART. In Oakland County tax dollars are passed on to SMART through the Oakland County Public Transit Authority. A portion of the millage revenue is returned to participating communities to operate local Community Transit service. More than $880,000 is distributed annually and through SMART an additional 98 Community Transit buses are operating providing more than 571 daily rides to Oakland County seniors and people with disabilities to help meet their critical transit needs.
Serving since 1967, SMART is southeast Michigan’s only regional public transportation provider, offering convenient, reliable and safe transportation for Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. SMART’s Fixed Route and small bus services connect people to employment and educational institutions, medical appointments and shopping centers. SMART is supported by federal and state funding, local contributions through a transit property tax millage from opt-in communities and bus fares. For routes and fare information, visit smartbus.org.