DETROIT (WWJ) – A metro Detroit bus system is turning to taxpayers to keep its operations from hitting the brakes.
Administrators with the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, or SMART for short, say they won’t be able to keep operating past next year if they don’t get a tax increase.
To keep its fleet in action, SMART is proposing a property tax increase of .41 mills, which is estimated to generate an additional $28 million a year. The funds would be used to replace shoddy buses, possibly increase services and maintain the fleet going into the future.
The millage would have to be approved by voters in the tri-county area. According to the Detroit Free Press, SMART General Manager John Hertel told Macomb County commissioners last week that if voters don’t approve the increase, SMART’s deficit will be $5 million annually for the next three years.
Commissions in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties have to approve the issue before it can hit the ballot. That approval has to happen before April 29 in order for a vote in August.
But how do voters feel about the issue? WWJ’s Laura Bonnell hit the streets to find out if Metro Detroiters would support the tax hike:
— “I would vote for an increase because we need the buses for people to go to work.”
— “I’m totally against the SMART buses. I pass by the buses all the time and there’s hardly anybody on them. So, I’m definitely against the millage.”
— “I guess I wouldn’t mind paying for it, I mean, I wouldn’t vote against them fixing the buses.”
— “Yeah, I think they need a lot of maintenance work so I’d vote for it if they’re actually going to do it. You know, sometimes you vote and they still don’t get it done.”
— “All these buses need work and we need more buses and more drivers so, whatever we can do to help that out, I’ll vote for any of that.”
Would you support a tax hike for SMART? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.