SMART Millage on the Ballot in Oakland County on August 7, 2012
Participating communities in Oakland County will have the opportunity, and are encouraged, to vote on the SMART public transit millage on Tuesday, August 7. SMART is seeking renewal of its .59 mil tax millage to continue operating services in Oakland County.
Renewal of the millage would maintain current levels of SMART fixed routes, Connector and funding for local Community Transit services in the 23 participating communities in Oakland County. A homeowner with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay $59 annually and will generate approximately $16 million annually. Oakland County voters supported the SMART millage by 78 percent in 2010 and SMART is hoping for similar results in the upcoming election. If the millage does not pass, SMART services would be eliminated at the end of the year.
Similar to other government agencies, 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.