Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Proposed Service Reductions to Ypsi released

5. September 2009 • Chuck Warpehoski
Email this article

Advance Ypsilanti has put out the call about a special Ypsi city council meeting on Tuesday, September 8:

At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 8, the Ypsilanti City Council will be considering a variety of proposals for major cuts to bus service in the city. At the meeting, officials from the Ann Arbor Transit Authority (AATA) will present City officials with several options for cuts which, if adopted, could take effect as soon as Spring 2010. These include complete or partial elimination of routes serving large portions of the city, as well as cutting days or times when service is available citywide.

They have also posted the proposed service cuts.

There’s a backstory to this. Part of the reason for the shortfall in Ypsi funding is that the AATA changed the way it charges other municipalities to provide service.

In addition to the Ypsi Council meeting, the AATA Board next meets on Sept 23 at 1:00 p.m.

What do you think should happen? Should Ypsi cough up the money? Should the AATA pony up to cover the shortfall? Should the service cuts go through?

  1. All public agencies and jurisdictions that rely on tax revenues are hurting at the moment. This is a ‘trying to squeeze blood from a stone’ moment for our community. AATA has been a first-rate transit system over the years, but clearly failed to plan for such a catastrophic drop in revenues (yes, it is true that very few public agencies thought the gravy train would so abruptly end).

    Since the ugly income tax battle, the Ypsilant City Council has done a remarkably good job of maintaining key services with reduced revenues. That the City proposes to maintain year-to-year funding to AATA is a testimony to the Council’s new-found fiscal prudence.

    The conflict here was created by AATA when it decided to drop it’s failure to plan into the budget laps of the communities it serves by seeking huge increases in local support.

    I agree that it is long past time to evaluate the effectiveness of the various AATA routes. Some areas of Eastern Washtenaw Co. are over-served by overlapping bus routes, while others have long been under-served. Unfortunately, the AATA’s proposed route changes are little more than a political squeeze play. They make little sense from an operational perspective, and even less from a customer-service perspective.

    Worse yet, the AATA memo on the cuts seeks to justify them with unsupported statements indicating that Ypsilanti area routes are “under-utilized.” Considering the awkward and counter-productive arrangement of a few routes, I have no doubt that’s true, but only because AATA has for too long failed to consistently re-evaluate and adjust their services to go where and when and how often people need them to do so.

    Rather than squeeze the calcified and shrunken budgets of local governments, perhaps the AATA’s energy could be better spent on internal efficieny reviews, creative ways to increase productivity and ridership, and partnering with local governments to seek a countywide transit millage.

       —Designated Conservative    Sep. 5 '09 - 09:27PM    #
  2. I’d like to point out that AATA Board member Ted Annis has been pushing for higher efficiency at the AATA for over a year, and the staff has found savings so that the cost per mile has been considerably reduced.

    Also, the AATA has had a number of increased responsibilities, including becoming the authority for WALLY, assuming a greater share of the connector study than had been anticipated, new service to the train station, and extending service to additional communities. Staff has also been heavily involved in transit planning in the region. I sat through several months of meetings and was impressed with all of their efforts and their professionalism.

    As has been pointed out elsewhere by other people, their chief source of revenue other than fares is Ann Arbor taxpayers and they also have been aggressive in seeking federal and state grants. It is reasonable, I think, that each community outside of Ann Arbor that contracts for service should pay the cost of the service. I would hate to see the service in Ann Arbor cut in order to expand service elsewhere.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Sep. 6 '09 - 01:17AM    #
  3. DC: You claim the AATA ‘clearly failed to plan for such a catastrophic drop in revenues’. So the budget reductions over the past several years, position attritions, efficiency reviews, etc. which have kept the budget almost balanced up to this point are a ‘failure of planning’? Please explain why you believe this is so.

    Have you looked at a system map lately? There is very little overlapping of routes on the ‘Eastern Washtenaw Co.’ side of the system (please define the boundaries of that geographical area). Most of the ‘overlap’ comes in Ann Arbor, though lack of overlap isn’t necessarily indicative of an ‘efficient’ system. The trimming of service on the east side of the system (and its resulting structure) has been primarily driven by cutbacks in the amounts of funding from Ypsilanti, Ypsi Twp., etc. (look at the maps going all the way back to the 1980s if you don’t believe me). There isn’t a claim in this memo that Ypsilanti service is ‘underutilized’. These reductions are clearly all about funding, just like they’ve been for years now…

    Do you know why service levels/coverage are so much greater in Ann Arbor than outside of it? The system is structured so that service in Ann Arbor is proportional to the amount of money its transit millage contributes to the system.

    Ann Arbor property taxes dwarf the amount of monies paid by Ypsilanti, Ypsi Twp., etc. For routes that cross multiple jurisdictions, the local costs are divided proportionally – hence the lower service levels outside of Ann Arbor.

    Are you saying that service should be redeployed so that Ann Arbor will end up directly subsidizing service across the entire system? If so, please explain why and elaborate on which neighborhoods in AA that you’d like to start chopping service from, because that’s what a redistribution of service would entail.

    The Ypsi city council has done a valiant job of maintaining services throughout these lean years, but a more permanent solution needs to be found.

    At least we can agree on one thing…a countywide millage is solely needed if we wish to maintain a usable transit system as we move into the future,

       —keaz    Sep. 6 '09 - 08:33AM    #
  4. Vivienne mentions the work of Ted Annis in promoting efficiency. My read is that it was his efforts that led to the change in the way that the AATA charges other municipalities for Purchase of Service Agreements.

    Ann Arbor benefits from service to Ypsi and the townships. Ann Arbor businesses benefit by bringing in workers and customers. Ann Arbor taxpayers benefit by reduced demand for parking. Ann Arbor drivers benefit from reduced congestion.

    When my wife worked in Ypsi, she took the bus. As Ann Arbor taxpayers, we benefit from robust service to Yspi. I want strong service to Ypsi and I’m willing to pay for service to Ypsi. Buses that don’t go where people want to go don’t have much value.

    That’s why in the short-term I think the AATA should shelve the change in how Ypsi pays for service. Just charge them for the cost of running the buses to Ypsi, not for some share of their Executive Director’s salary.

    In the long term, as Keaz and the memo point out, we need to look at a regional solution to transportation.

    And of course, it’s also important to remember that the AATA is more than buses. Vivienne mentioned this in her post, and in addition to that it’s also services like A-Ride that helps people with disabilities get around and maintain their independence.

    I can think of one person, for example, who is a stroke survivor and is still able to live independently at home thanks to A-Ride. Without services like this, I don’t think she could afford to live independently, but to put her in a government-subsidized facility would be a lot more of a burden to taxpayers (not to mention worse for her).

    Transit is a great value for the community.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Sep. 6 '09 - 08:22PM    #
  5. Chuck W is correct in noting the reallocation of costs has caused a dramatic rise in the cost of service for Ypsilanti. Nevertheless, one of the biggest concerns Advance Ypsilanti identified is the significant reduction for transportation services in the 2010 City of Ypsilanti budget. We may question the wisdom of AATA to attempt what is a 30% increase over the next three years, but Ypsilanti City Council has reduced its commitment by 28% from the previous 2008/09 budget.

       —John Gawlas    Sep. 7 '09 - 04:43AM    #
  6. John Gawlas,

    Be honest. Why is Ypsilanti’s budget strained to the point where the city cannot afford to fully subsidize AATA? Because of the $Millions in total financial liability caused by your many votes of support for the Water Street debacle – votes that continued long after it became clear to most residents that the City Administration was not up to the task of bringing this project to profitable fruition. Be honest about the mess your time as Councilmember has left for others to deal with, and do something more positive with your extra free time, please.

       —Designated Conservative    Sep. 7 '09 - 08:16AM    #
  7. Unverified message from a source says that Ypsilanti City Council just voted to eliminate route 5.

       —Matt Hampel    Sep. 9 '09 - 04:40AM    #
  8. Notes coming in through friends of friends on Facebook — re-written a bit:

    - Passed a resolution to eliminate funding for the Ypsilanti portion of route 5

    - Eliminated funding for the last trips of the evening for routes 10 and 11

    - Started groundwork for a Headlee rollback that would be used to pay for transit

    Translation of that last one:

    The term “Headlee roll back” became part of municipal finance lexicon in 1978 with the passage of the Headlee Amendment to the Constitution of the State of Michigan of 1963. In a nutshell, Headlee requires a local unit of government to reduce its millage when annual growth on existing property is greater than the rate of inflation. As a consequence, the local unit’s millage rate is “rolled back” so that the resulting growth in property tax revenue, community-wide, is no more than the rate of inflation. A “Headlee override” is a vote by the electors to return the millage to the amount originally authorized via charter, state statute or a vote of the people and is necessary to counteract the effects of the “Headlee Rollback.”

    More explanation on in the source document, which is from the Michigan Municipal League.

       —Matt Hampel    Sep. 9 '09 - 06:04AM    #
  9. The AATA Route 5 (Packard Road), is heavily used by folks both in the moring and evening. I’m surprised to hear that it was considered for elimination.

       —scooter62    Sep. 9 '09 - 06:31AM    #
  10. the 5 had 157,000 passengers Jan-March of this year; the 4 had 215,000. But that’s total riders; I don’t have per-stop totals yet. Thanks to Ed Vielmetti for pointing out those numbers in a April report uploaded to a2docs earlier this year. See numbered page 35 (page 36 of the online view) for the details.

       —Matt Hampel    Sep. 9 '09 - 07:21AM    #
  11. Route 5 stats are buried in this document from April 2009

    As of Feb 2009 about 1/3 of Route 5 passengers were paid for by the U of Michigan, and another 10+% were part of the go!pass system.

       —Edward Vielmetti    Sep. 9 '09 - 07:22AM    #
  12. So you meant “Headlee override” to help pay for transit, then, Matt, not “Headlee rollback”?

    The complement to the ridership/revenue numbers would be the expenses for those routes. I didn’t bother trying to track them down, but they’re likely (the greater) part of the council’s considerations.

    Does this boil down to Ypsi government indicating that they’d like people who work in Ann Arbor to live here (and vice versa)? Maybe the override plan indicates otherwise? (And what about Ann Arbor government’s position as demonstrated by their actions?)

       —Steve Bean    Sep. 9 '09 - 07:53AM    #
  13. Matt, in #8, did you mean that the Ypsilanti Council started groundwork for a Headlee override?

    I think that this Headlee amendment is an albatross around the neck of local government, and contrary to the true wishes of the electorate. When we vote for a specific millage (0.5 mills, etc.), I doubt that many enter the booth thinking, “and the great thing is that the actual millage will immediately start being rolled back”.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Sep. 9 '09 - 07:57AM    #
  14. “I think that this Headlee amendment is an albatross around the neck of local government, and contrary to the true wishes of the electorate.”

    Except the original Headlee provisions and subsequent amendments in Proposal A were approved by Michigan voters. Local governments can always seek voter approval to return their millage rates to the rates original approved by voters.

       —John Q.    Sep. 9 '09 - 08:13AM    #
  15. JG –

    Your last year on Ypsilanti City Council you voted for a two year budget with the AATA allocation for FY 2009-10 reduced to $158,000. That is still the number in the budget. Perhaps the question should be why did YOU reduce the allocation for AATA when you were projecting increases in tax revenue instead of the several hundred thousand dollar reductions we are actually experiencing?

    We need a dedicated source of funding for public tranportation, whether it is through a regional system or a City only Headlee rollback restricted to public transportation as was proposed at tonight’s Council meeting.

    If you are serious about public transportation, you will join with others of like mind to make sure this effort succeeds.

       —Pete Murdock    Sep. 9 '09 - 08:19AM    #
  16. Sorry for any confusion; I was parsing and posting quotes from a Facebook conversation, and I missed that obvious switch. Looks like it’s got to be an override.

       —Matt Hampel    Sep. 9 '09 - 08:29AM    #
  17. has a full story on last night’s meeting .

       —Edward Vielmetti    Sep. 9 '09 - 05:26PM    #
  18. Does Ypsi Township contribute to the service?

       —John Q.    Sep. 9 '09 - 06:21PM    #
  19. Yes, Ypsilanti Twp. contributes to bus service.

       —Leah Gunn    Sep. 9 '09 - 06:32PM    #
  20. Does the funding from Ypsilanti Township cover the expenses for the service or are Ann Arbor taxpayers picking up the tab like we have been with the City of Ypsilanti?

       —Alan Goldsmith    Sep. 9 '09 - 09:43PM    #
  21. I don’t know, Alan – perhaps the AATA can answer that. I do not object to subsidizing bus funding for Ypsi City, as they have the highest tax rate in the state. As far as the region goes, they more than pay their share, and the have many of the lowest income people in the county. Both Ann Arbor and Ypsi City pay to subsidize police services for Ypsi Twp., and I have always objected to that, but there are not the votes to change it.

       —Leah Gunn    Sep. 9 '09 - 10:37PM    #
  22. I would disagree with your assertion, Alan, that Ypsi City has been subsidized.

    As I understand, there are (at least) two ways of billing for service, both of which are valid:

    1. Marginal cost (how it used to be done): “Okay, it costs us X dollars to run a bus to Ypsi for personnel, equipment, maintenance, fuel, etc., so we’ll charge them X dollars.”

    2. Share of total cost (What the AATA is moving to): “Okay, it costs X dollars to run a bus to Ypsi, but it also costs Y dollars to heat our office and Z dollars to pay our executive director, so we’ll charge Ypsi X plus a share of Y and Z.”

    As I said, I think both are valid ways of charging for service. Part of the issue has been AATA’s decision to change from what I called a marginal cost structure to a share of total cost structure (somebody please correct me if I’m completely messing this up). That alone is upping Ypsi’s bill by 30%.

    Remember, if Ypsi cuts all their service, it doesn’t save the AATA what they assume is Ypsi’s share of the other overhead costs. If Ypsi had the money, sure, go and try to get it. Ypsi doesn’t, so I don’t see the advantage of cutting service as a way to squeeze out money for expenses that AATA would have to cover anyway.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Sep. 9 '09 - 11:23PM    #
  23. AATA reports, “The budget adopted by the City of Ypsilanti for FY 2010 includes $158,967 for transit service. This is 56% of the $282,039 that AATA requires for the continuation of existing services levels…In addition, Ypsilanti Township has informed AATA that it can pay a maximum of $264,453 in FY 2010. This is 93% of the $283,400 AATA requires for continuation of existing service levels”.

       —John Gawlas    Sep. 10 '09 - 12:14AM    #
  24. I should have also noted that the 2008/2009 amended budget in Ypsilanti under the previous City Council provided for 100% of the $246,000 that AATA required for existing service levels.

       —John Gawlas    Sep. 10 '09 - 02:55AM    #
  25. Chuck: You’ve pretty much hit the nail right on the head. This is a case of marginal vs. fully-allocated costs. AATA Treasurer Ted Annis has been pushing for the fully-allocated cost option for a long time now. I can’t say whether or not it’s appropriate to pursue at this time.

    This costing issue is actually helpful in some ways because Ypsi and the AATA have been in this position for years now. The AATA board has voted to ‘float’ Ypsi in the past, then the Ypsi council was able to come up with money. Revenues in Ypsi are now down to the point where they need to look at long-term solutions more seriously. A county-wide millage or Headlee override are ways to do this.

    I personally believe that the general ridership is not going to support the Headlee override option unless they feel the effects of the strained budget. There’s been talk of ‘fixing’ this situation for years now…this may be what it takes to bring the public out of its lethargy.

       —keaz    Sep. 10 '09 - 04:38AM    #
  26. While I don’t care much for service cuts, the conditions outlined on the resolution set forward by council member Murdock do help to reduce (but definitely do not eliminate) the impact on riders.

    It was explained that the segment of rt. 5 that is proposed to be eliminated is a low-productivity section of the route and is within a quarter-mile of rt. 4 at every point (it directly overlaps rt. 4 for a significant distance). The main direct connection lost in this segment is to the southeast side of Ann Arbor. The reduced rt. 5 could be structured to intersect with rt. 4., meaning that trip could be made with a transfer. This segment was chosen because other options exist for riders in that area.

    The change with larger potential impact on riders is on routes 10 and 11. The last trips of the evening have the lightest ridership, but they will hurt people because (unlike the rt. 5 segment mentioned above) there is no supplementary service in many of the areas covered by these routes.

    I guess we’ll have to see how this all plays out…

       —keaz    Sep. 10 '09 - 04:59AM    #
  27. John Gawlas likes to reinvent history.

    In 2005 he voted for a resolution against a signature campaign started by Keep Ypsi Rollin’ to put a dedicated transit millage on the ballot.

    In 2006 he voted to cut bus funding from $190,000 to $131,000.

    In 2007 he voted to cut bus funding again from $131,000 to $126,000.

    In 2008 he voted on a two year budget that set funding for 2010 at $158,967. The same amount he’s saying isn’t enough now is the same amout he thought was enough last year.

       —Keep Ypsi Rollin'    Sep. 10 '09 - 06:33AM    #
  28. I read through the April 2009 report on ridership, revenue, etc.

    i think it’s time AATA cut routes that no one uses. Like Newport, the #14 down Geddes, eg.

       —just a homeowner    Sep. 10 '09 - 05:22PM    #
  29. I’m more interested for the calls for a Washtenaw Regional Transit Authority I’m seeing on the article’s message boards.

    This authority we could organize services (adding express routes where necessary, cutting ones that aren’t used) and organize funding across townships, cities, and the like.

    Who would pay for it? We all would, by reorganizing the funding taxpayers currently pay for transit in localities, county wide, buy allowing the authority to purchase en mass, rather than locally, in small amounts.

    Would it be a struggle? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Will there be naysayers? Yes. Do they have valid opinions? Yes. Is it worth the arduous task to organize and propose this? Yes. Do we have a nationally renowned university in our midst with a Transportation Research Institute, School of Public Planning, and A School of Urban Planning and Design that could likely take on a good chunk of the legwork, and cheaply at that? Yes.

    It’s time to begin working together as a county (and for that matter as a region) to solve problems rather than find multiple

       —Jeremy Peters    Sep. 10 '09 - 07:02PM    #
  30. Just a homeowner—

    In general, I agree that transit routes should go where the most people will use them. But in some cases, there are compelling reasons for routes in places where ridership is more limited. The routes you named, for example, serve Concordia University and Washtenaw Community College, among other places. If not for AATA, it would be extremely difficult to reach them without a car (especially Concordia, since the Border-to-Border Trail has improved bike access to WCC). Obviously, it would be even better if these colleges hadn’t been built in inaccessible locations, but it’s too late to change that (though I’m glad WCC is considering a downtown branch). There’s a compelling public interest in providing transit service to all major regional destinations. Of course, there’s also a compelling public interest in providing transit service that’s frequent and convenient enough to attract more “riders of choice.” Since transit systems in the U.S. are so underfunded, they find it difficult to serve both interests, and since most people still conceive of transit as a welfare program for the carless, systems tend to err on the side of spreading themselves too thin. If provided with sufficient funding, WATA could provide both more comprehensive coverage (including links to Chelsea, Saline etc.) and more frequent service.
       —Joel Batterman    Sep. 10 '09 - 10:12PM    #
  31. Re #29: Jeremy, I’m confused by your comments on funding. Most localities in Washtenaw County pay very little for transit and most of those are for contracts with AATA.

    The plan for a countywide authority that I heard floated back in December and January would involve a countywide vote for a 1 mill property tax. As I understood it, Ann Arbor residents would be expected to pay the new 1 mill tax and to continue their current (about 2 mills) tax as well, with the justification that the Ann Arbor tax would be used for service within Ann Arbor and the 1 mill tax would support everything else.

    There had been talk of putting the millage on last August’s ballot, which obviously didn’t happen.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Sep. 10 '09 - 10:36PM    #
  32. Here is the resolution that the Ypsilanti City Council passed on Tuesday. It is a plan to use increased contributions from the City, some service cuts and some AATA stimulus money to get us through two fiscal years. This gives us time to put a dedicated source of funding for public transportation either through a regional organization (preferred) of a Ypsilanti City Headlee override dedicated to public transportation on the November 2010 ballot.

    Whereas the City Council of the City of Ypsilanti believes that public transportation is a core service necessary for the community’s economic, social and environmental well being, yet not immune from the City’s financial and economic circumstances

    And Whereas the City of Ypsilanti is strongly committed to providing public transportation to the residents of the City of Ypsilanti

    And whereas the City Council adamantly believes that a regional system with a dedicated source of funding is the best method to provide that service

    And whereas the City is desirous of creating a road map to achieve those goals

    Therefore be it resolved by the City Council of the City of Ypsilanti that AATA be requested to

    1. Enter into an extended 21 month agreement from October 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011 based upon the proposed rates for AATA’s FY 2009-2010

    2. institute service cuts beginning in April 1, 2010 consisting of elimination of Packard Route No. 5 and the shortening of the hours of Local Routes # 10 and # 11 by one hour for an estimated annual savings of $ 64,000

    3. Utilize AATA Stimulus dollars to make up the shortfall for City FY 2009-10 of approximately $101,000

    And further resolved that the City Council will budget approximately $218,000 for City FY 2010-11 to fulfill its contractual obligation for the extended contract.

    And further resolved that AATA be strongly urged to move with all deliberate speed to pursue the creation of a regional transit authority

    And further resolved that lacking any progress on the establishment of a regional transit authority and the accompanying scheduling of an election, the City Council will place on the November 2010 general election ballot a Headlee Rollback proposal that captures and designates the increased revenues solely for funding public transportation.

       —Pete Murdock    Sep. 10 '09 - 11:46PM    #
  33. Thanks for the resolution posting pete!

    Just a homeowner: if a county-wide authority and millage is the goal, it would be very unwise to lop service out of neighborhoods in Ann Arbor at this point.

    Route structuring is a political process. If it was just about productivity, then the DDA should not have discontinued funding for the Link.

    Ann Arbor voters are going to be critical to the success of any county-wide millage, and they’re going to need to be sold on increases to service within the city. The only way they’re going to see increased service (and rail service) is by paying for the additional 1-2 mils on top of the millage they already pay.

    Cutting out a bunch of service in Ann Arbor and telling them ‘you’ll get it back through the county-wide millage’ is a recipe for failure. An enhanced system will not be possible unless Ann arbor sustains its current millage, as i doubt the rest of the county will want to pay 4-5 mils to make up for it.

    If i’m also not mistaken, (because the the AA property millage) AATA’s service standards require service within a quarter-mile of 90% of all residences in Ann Arbor (if somebody has a copy of the service standards, please help me with these details). The board of directors was working to revise these, but i’m not sure if they ever formally adopted anything.

    While route productivity is important, it is just one factor when designing a transit system.

       —keaz    Sep. 11 '09 - 12:10AM    #
  34. What is the current amount of Federal,State, and University subsidies to AATA? How many persons would there be riding the buses if those riders from Ypsilanti and other outlying areas were excluded? Does anyone believe that these subsidies would be available if only the small numbers of riders within the city were considered? Shouldn’t this grant revenue generated as a result of riders from outlying areas be considered as contributing to the payment of those services? If Ann Arbor wants a viable bus system with significant numbers of actual riders, then they are dependent on those communities where the bulk of the bus riders board and should treat them more equitably. But charging them excessively to the point where they can no longer afford the expensive service that you want to provide is not equitable. And then attempting to get funding from a regional tax, knowing full well that the system is ill equipped to provide significant service to all the communities that they desire to tax, is even more unjust.

       —EOS    Sep. 12 '09 - 04:00AM    #
  35. Thanks for responses. The #14 goes from Pioneer through Ann Arbor Hills and stops at the hospital. The other route I mentioned serves the west side (I believe).

    WCC and Concordia are served by other routes.

       —just a homeowner    Sep. 12 '09 - 05:21PM    #
  36. It’s easy to propose cuts for other people’s neighborhoods. We riders of the Newport route are grateful that it was maintained, since we would otherwise be isolated and without transit. (It’s not true that “no one” uses it.) It is a limited route in any case (no night or weekend service). And it serves Skyline High School.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Sep. 12 '09 - 09:01PM    #
  37. EOS: State and federal operating funds are relatively fixed. Though certain funds are based on ridership levels, it’s not even close to a 1:1 level of matching. Ridership could double, but the amounts of funding would change only slightly.

    The funding levels are based on a complex formula using factors such as population of the urbanized area (when an urbanized area reaches a certain size threshold, funding is reduced), urban vs. non-urban coverage, etc. The benefit to this is that funding doesn’t evaporate if the system goes through a few lean-ridership years. It doesn’t really help in situations like today where ridership is dramatically up in many areas, but funding can’t greatly flex up with it.

    Ypsi and the outlying areas do receive the state and federal matches for every dollar they contribute. The mayor said that Ypsi’s match was over $3 for every dollar they contribute.

    The whole point of the county-wide millage is to help generate significant amounts of funding for areas like Ypsi so that they can be given the levels of service that their ridership warrants (without taking it from the general budget).

       —keaz    Sep. 14 '09 - 03:43AM    #
  38. #2 for EOS – Regarding your comments on the communities surrounding Ann Arbor and your perception that they are subsidizing service for the city: you’re not taking into account how the current system is funded and how ridership on the system breaks out.

    If you want to look at funding geographically, the Ann Arbor millage almost exclusively provides the local funding for rts. 1, 2, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18. Using your model, when a person from the surrounding communities sets foot on one of these routes their trip is pretty much subsidized by Ann Arbor – and those routes provide A LOT of service!

    The Ann Arbor millage also pays for a large percentage of every route that travels between AA and Ypsi (rts. 3, 4, 5, 6). Some of these routes have their heaviest ridership coming from the AA side. Quick examples: rt. 5 ridership primarily is generated from the segment of the route between Ellsworth/Platt and downtown AA (one of the reasons why there is more service on rt. 5 in AA).
    Rt. 6 generates ridership along most of its length, but the Briarwood to downtown AA segment creates the majority of it.

    I’m having a hard time understanding your comment about people outside of Ann Arbor not getting their money’s worth out of the current system. Could you clarify a little more on what you meant by that?

       —keaz    Sep. 14 '09 - 04:05AM    #
  39. Is the county-wide millage something that would require voter approval? If so, I cannot imagine the townships would support it. They won’t even pay the true cost of law enforcement.

       —just a homeowner    Sep. 14 '09 - 05:05AM    #
  40. keaz-

    The city of Ypsilanti has significant budget problems that won’t be resolved in the near future. They need buses so that residents without cars can get to and from work in Ann Arbor. They can ill afford the expensive buses that are provided by AATA, but the existence of AATA precludes other options. The relatively wealthier community of Ann Arbor won’t consider reducing the costs of their bus system to a level that can be afforded by Ypsilanti City residents. So your proposal is for a county-wide millage to help generate significant amounts of funding for areas like the city of Ypsilanti. The problem is AATA does not provide service to the sparsely populated rural areas of the county, nor is it economically feasible to do so. It is not equitable to ask persons who don’t have the option of a bus on their corner every 15 minutes to pay for city buses every 15 minutes. The equitable solution would be to reduce the costs of the bus system to match the ability of the communities that ride the buses to pay for those services it receives.

       —EOS    Sep. 14 '09 - 09:57AM    #
  41. “The equitable solution would be to reduce the costs of the bus system to match the ability of the communities that ride the buses to pay for those services it receives.”

    Sounds good. How do you do that?

       —John Q.    Sep. 14 '09 - 05:38PM    #
  42. EOS claims that “the existence of AATA precludes other options.” Not true. The WAVE service to Chelsea, for example, shows that there is the possibility of alternate services.

    Another way to have an equitable system is to provide an array of services that meets different needs.

    For example, the AATA is more than the buses, it also provides A-Ride service for people with disabilities.

    The out-county services could focus on services like these and community-connector services to help people get between communities, while the urbanized-area services would be more based on fixed-route services.

    homeowner, yes this would require a county-wide vote. That’s why the AATA report linked to above talks about the polling AATA is doing to see if this is even feasible.

    One big benefit for the out-county folks under this system is it would help senior citizens keep their independence and age in place. If you still want to live on the farm but can’t safely drive, this service would give you a way to get rides to the store, to the doctor’s office, etc.

    That’s a much better deal for taxpayers than putting someone in a subsidized retirement facility, and it’s better for folks who want to stay in their homes as long as possible.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Sep. 14 '09 - 05:59PM    #
  43. Chuck,

    If bus service were a priority for us we wouldn’t have moved to the cornfields. We don’t want a county wide millage to pay for buses that don’t service our area. We don’t get the value of the service so we shouldn’t have to pay for it.

    John Q,

    How about buying buses without the frills. We don’t need electronic talking buses when the driver can easily announce the destinations. We don’t need scrolling messages constantly playing inside the bus. We don’t need 2 parallel bus routes less than a quarter mile apart in the city of Ypsi. For starters.

       —EOS    Sep. 14 '09 - 08:29PM    #
  44. “How about buying buses without the frills.”

    What’s the price difference and how much does it save? Personally, I would rather have the driver focused on driving.

       —John Q.    Sep. 14 '09 - 08:56PM    #
  45. EOS: the automated system makes sure that the ADA-required announcements are made properly. It was a huge issue with many transit systems to get drivers to consistently make those announcements. The cheap ‘compromise’ solution was to get the driver to push a button at the timepoints which would play the announcements in a pre-recorded order. Didn’t work…couldn’t get most drivers to do it.

    The automated system also tracks vital operating stats on all buses. Example: if oil pressure starts waning the dispatcher often knows it before the driver does. This allows vehicles to be dispatched more quickly, helping to mitigate disruptions to service. It also helps reduce maintenance costs by allowing vehicles to be brought back into the shop before a problem becomes very serious (preventative maintenance saves a great deal of money). The problem with this automated system is that it’s first-generation technology. There are other solutions out there now, but they cost money.

    Bus service costs what it costs. If you strip out the automated system, costs will go up somewhere else. AATA costs are pretty much inline with its peers (though they are definitely at the upper end of the range)…check the National Transit Database for details. You can compare the costs against somewhere like Knoxville, where service costs about half as much as here. However, I wouldn’t want to have to rely on those buses as my primary transportation mode there. A great deal of the system cuts off at 6pm in the evening, and 30 minute frequencies are about as good as it gets on most routes. It’s really easy to drop service costs by cutting out service on the street.

    The county-wide millage distribution will be proportionately split among the areas in which it’s raised. Ann Arbor will create a boatload more money than everywhere, so most of its share will be spent on service that connects to or runs within it. Monies raised from other areas will be passed through to existing agencies to run different types of service tailored toward the demographics of those areas (like dial-a-ride type services for low density areas).

    The AATA can be reformulated under state law into a different type of authority with proportional representation from all areas of the county. There are specific clauses in the state constitution created exactly for this situation.

    Chuck has provided some excellent comments…take them to heart.

       —keaz    Sep. 15 '09 - 06:46AM    #
  46. EOS and John Q: As far as I understand it, AATA pays very little of the purchase price for the buses. Most are funded close to 100% by federal and state grants.

    For example, for the new hybrid buses:

    The buses cost $546,000 each, said Mary Stasiak, community relations manager for AATA. Of that, $221,000 for each bus came from a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant and the rest came from regular federal bus replacement fund, Stasiak said.

       —Matt Hampel    Sep. 15 '09 - 05:13PM    #
  47. EOS, the folks living out in the cornfields don’t want to have to move into an assisted-living facility when their eyesight starts to go and they can no longer safely drive. Strong countywide bus service that includes lifeline services for seniors and people with disabilities helps ensure they can maintain their independence.

    What’s more, it’s a good deal for the adult children of seniors. It means that Mom and Dad can stay at home for more of their lives rather than moving into an expensive home or moving in with you.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Sep. 15 '09 - 06:49PM    #
  48. EOS, this report just came through my email, Where We Want To Be: Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For Smart Growth

    Here’s an excerpt:

    Although market surveys indicate that most North American households preferred single-family homes, they also indicate strong and growing consumer preference for smart growth features such as accessibility and modal options (reflected as short commutes and convenient walkability to local services). Twenty years ago less than a third of households preferred smart growth, but this is projected to increase to two thirds of households within two decades.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Sep. 15 '09 - 08:03PM    #
  49. No Thanks. Don’t want it, don’t need it, won’t pay for it. Will make sure my neighbors are informed and vote against it as well. It’s obvious that the purpose of a county wide millage is to subsidize existing service between the 2 cities. The rest is just like a bone you throw to the dogs to make us think we are getting something for our money.

       —EOS    Sep. 15 '09 - 10:46PM    #
  50. I hear your skepticism, EOS, but I would hope you would at least wait until the AATA releases the draft service plan until you say what it “obviously” is.

    I expect that when this comes for a vote, there will be just as many Ann Arborites worrying about subsidizing service in Manchester as are Manchesterians worried about subsidizing service in Ann Arbor.

    I hope the proposed service plan is one that provides value to everyone.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Sep. 15 '09 - 11:58PM    #
  51. EOS is correct. Such a millage should be voted down just as the jail millage was. After voter education by such groups as People Against Corruption occurred that millage failed due to voter awareness.

    Taxpayers are being fed up with being milked for their hard-earned money by bureaucrats for projects of dubious value.

    We need fiscal responsibility.

       —Mark Koroi    Sep. 16 '09 - 01:07AM    #
  52. So, I was riding the #6 the other dayto do my weekly shopping, and I noticed a sign about Title VI, which has to do with discrimination based in public transportation based on race, gender, economic status, ect, and gave information on where to file a complaint. Then I looked around the bus. (this was on my return trip to Ypsi) Lots of ethnic minorities, women, and there were certainly poor folks, at least me, riding the bus. Service is being cut to areas of our city AND TOWNSHIP (that’s right folks, people in several townships use the bus the 9 & 10 in Ypsi and Superior and the #5 in Pittsfield ) that contain large numbers of poor and minority riders. It seems to me that all of these people are being disadvantaged by this service reduction and should have a right to file a complaint under Title VI. People like to say that Ypsi is A2’s ghetto. And a ghetto is where the poor and minorities are housed. So let’s use that view of our city against the AATA and tell them they are violating the Title VI rights of thousands in Ypsilanti.

    Yes, I am aware that this is most likely not the intent of Title VI, and that many might consider such an action an abuse of it. I don’t really care. I would encourage those in Detroit, who have suffered a massive bus service cut, to do the same. Let’s get ugly. Let’s talk angrily. I’m willing to fight a little dirty when I have to in order to make good things happen in Ypsi, as well as all of our cities in Michigan.

       —Andy Ypsilanti    Sep. 16 '09 - 01:32AM    #
  53. Seems like a short-sighted attitude when AATA only provides the level of service it does today thanks to the tax dollars of Ann Arbor taxpayers.

       —John Q.    Sep. 16 '09 - 02:00AM    #
  54. My first choice would be a county wide millage, but it seems that a large number, and possibly majority of township residents don’t see the value of having a thriving bus system covering our entire area. Even though many busses run into township areas, and busses reduce traffic congestion, especialy through park and ride. I guess there must not be a lot of township residents that work in Ann Arbor or Ypsi. Oh, and I just talked to someone riding the #5 from A2 to Ypsi, and she said there are about 50 people on the bus right this minute. But I’m sure all those folks will be ok without it. I mean, it’s only about half a mile or a mile walk from the homes and buisnesses along that route to the next closest one, right?

       —Andy Ypsilanti    Sep. 16 '09 - 02:44AM    #
  55. My first choice to fix funding would be a couty wid millage,but going to have to come out fighting if we want to get it passed. I would say that includes talking to fellow riders about voting every time you get on the bus, mabe even having voter registration on board. If we are going to have a prayer against the people who refuse to see how busses benifit our entire community, not just the cities, we are going to have to do some serious education about how bussing help communities prosper.

    I just talked to someone riding the #5 from A2 to Ypsi, and she said there are about 50 people on the bus right this minute. But I’m sure all those folks will be ok without it. I mean, it’s only about half a mile or a mile walk from the homes and buisnesses along that route to the next closest one, right?

    I do like how many township residents also refuse to admit that the bus system, especialy those routes that are being cut as well as the #6 and #3 service large areas of several townships, including Ypsi, Superior, and Pitsfield. Oh, and there’s the express service to Chelse that has been hugely popular, and now an express to Canton. But I’m sure that doesn’t benifit township residents at all, either.

       —Andy Ypsilanti    Sep. 16 '09 - 02:59AM    #
  56. For 2010, AATA is charging the city of Ypsilanti $89 per service hour, which is 14% less than AATA’s full cost of $103 per service hour. The city of Ypsilanti 2010 purchase of service agreement (POSA) accounts for 20% of the $89 per service hour cost:

    City of Ypsilanti 2010 POSA Revenue Sources
    Rider Fare Revenue —- 36%
    State funding ————- 30%
    Ypsilanti POSA ——–—- 20%
    Federal funding——–— 14%
    Total ————————— 100%

    Paul Schreiber

       —Paul Schreiber    Sep. 16 '09 - 03:45PM    #
  57. EOS: Are you willing then to pay the entire cost of your choice to live in the cornfields? That means the actual cost for police protection, without subsidies from Ann Arbor and Ypsi city? When you’re required to shut down your well and hook up to the municipal service, or to the local sewer, are you going to pay the cost for that?

    Another thing, by paying for transportation in the appropriate areas, you increase the chances that development stays near the transportation lines. The way things are now, there will be a dense Ann Arbor/Ypsi, plus a ring of greenbelt (don’t get me started on that stupidity), and then a sea of McMansions in Dextet and beyond.

       —just a homeowner    Sep. 16 '09 - 04:01PM    #
  58. Try riding the AATA #5 in the early morning (6:30 AM, 7 AM or 8 AM or at 4 PM, 5 PM, or 6 Pm when it is busy.

    Before I start my day and after, the bus is always busy coming to Ann Arbor from Ypsilanti. Riders are often standing in the aisles and drivers nervous as they add more passengers to an already crowded bus.

    I’ve also experienced this on the #4.

    Working people need the bus service.

       —AATA Bus Rider    Sep. 16 '09 - 04:04PM    #
  59. Homeowner –

    The township pays exactly the same millage as every other municipality in the county for the State mandated county sheriff. We pay our way. And then, we pay additionally for dedicated patrols in the township, thereby subsidizing the costs for everybody else. As far as I know, there is no state mandate that we pay for dedicated patrols. We could stop at any time. The county and the state would still be required to provide police services. I’d hate to hear the whining then.

    I choose to live outside the ring of McMansions and like it very much. When the encroaching population/industry pollutes the groundwater, I’ll move further out. Increasing transportation lines to my property would accelerate the necessity to move and is a prime reason I don’t want it. You can keep your concrete and population density. I prefer nature.

       —EOS    Sep. 16 '09 - 07:56PM    #
  60. I have no problem with a sprawl tax.

       —Andy Ypsilanti    Sep. 16 '09 - 09:07PM    #
  61. Information for EOS – you do NOT pay your own way with police patrols if your Township contracts with the county. The General Fund, to which we all pay, subsidizes those contracts. No Township resident pays the full cost of the deputies contracted for. The residents of those cities and townships which have their own police departments are paying twice – once to subsidize these contracts, and again for their own police forces. Those jurisdictions paying twice include the cities of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Milan, Saline & Chelsea as well as the Townships of Northfield and Pittsfield. The county is NOT mandated to provide police services, and if you doubt this, you may examine the recent decison of the Michigan Supreme Court which dismissed the Ypsilanti Township case against Washtenaw County. If there were not contracts, those jurisdictions would have to rely on the State Police. In addition, Washtenaw County funds 12 deputies out of its General Fund, which it is in no way required to do. Whoever lives in a Township without a police force gets a really good deal from the county, at the expense of the rest of us.

       —Leah Gunn    Sep. 16 '09 - 09:39PM    #
  62. From Brian Robb

    I just received word at 10:25AM this morning that the previously scheduled previously cancelled AATA planning meeting is back on again for tonight at 6:30PM at the AATA Business Office located at 2700 South Industrial Highway in Ann Arbor.

    Keep in mind this is only a planning meeting, therefore no decisions will be made on service in Ypsilanti, but if you love busing, come out and show your solidarity.

       —Andy Ypsilanti    Sep. 16 '09 - 09:55PM    #
  63. Leah,

    Yes, most cities pay twice. Detroit has a police force and Wayne County has sheriffs as well. The county is mandated to have a sheriff department of sufficient size to respond to all Homeland Security threats. If they are not policing, they can sit on their butts on Hogback,but we can’t eliminate them. The township does not have to pay whatever figure the county pulls out of the hat. I say the State Police will be fine.

       —EOS    Sep. 16 '09 - 11:15PM    #
  64. What State Police? One of the goals of the Mackinac Center is to eliminate state police patrols. The latest round of budget cuts are doing a good job of making that goal come to pass.

       —John Q.    Sep. 17 '09 - 12:08AM    #
  65. The State police would not be “fine” particularly since five officers have recently been eliminated from the Ypsilanti post. When citizens in townships which don’t have contracts call 911, and the State Police respond, unless it is a crime in progress or violent, it takes them hours to appear. And, your remarks about what the Sheriff is required to do about “responding to Homeland Security threats” is pulled out of thin air. The Sheriff is merely suppposed to “keep an eye out” for crime – they are NOT required to respond to calls for service. Read the statutes and the court cases.

    As to Wayne County, they do not have any police service deputies. They have jurisdiction for running the jail, which is mandated. All Wayne County jurisdictions have their own police departments, or rely on the State police. The Airport police are a completely different force, run by the Airport Authority.

    I don’t know where you get your facts, but they are innaccurate. And, Washtenaw COunty has paid over $1 million in defense attorney fees to confirm this – police services are NOT mandated.

       —Leah Gunn    Sep. 17 '09 - 02:53PM    #
  66. From Ypsi city councilman Brian Robb

    At tonight’s AATA Planning Committee meeting, the committee unanimously recommended using just over $200K worth of Federal stimulus money to make up the shortfall in Ypsilanti’s budgets for the next two fiscal years. They essentially recommended the resolution Ypsilanti City Council passed on September 8th.

    Keep in mind, this is only a recommendation, but if the full board passes this, there will be no service cuts, and we will be having an millage election of some sort in November of 2010.

    From me:
    I want to point out now that we are going to need to get organized and GET ON THE BUSSES with information on a county wide millage proposal when it is ready to go. Voter education will be huge on this. We all know that those who don’t understand the need for public transit will be “educating” area residents on “evils” of a reigonaly funded system. It will take dedication to get every vote we can from ALL of the areas serviced by the AATA, and those outside of those areas who understand the true importance of public transit. Ypsi, A2, Chelse, Superior, Pitsfilied, Ypsi and all the other townships. I’m still not a fan of brinksmanship, but Pete is correct. We need to prepare ourselves for this fight now.

       —Andy Ypsilanti    Sep. 17 '09 - 09:08PM    #
  67. Leah –

    You would think in your position that you would be better informed. You are distorting the facts. Dedicated patrols provided by the county in the townships are not mandated. The county does not have to provide them, nor do the townships have to pay the county for them. However, the county Sheriff department is mandated and the Homeland Security obligation is detailed in the state statutes and the recent court cases. The lawsuits were not about whether or not the county had to provide dedicated police patrols, but whether there was a breach of contract when the board threw out the impartially derived costs calculated by an outside consultant and arbitrarily raised the fees to capture revenue to build the giant jail. I never said police services provided by the county were mandated. However, when the threat was made by the county to abolish the dedicated patrols, it was made public that the costs of the sheriff department would increase for the county at large. So who is really subsidizing whom? I don’t know where you get your facts, but they are inaccurate.

       —EOS    Sep. 17 '09 - 09:27PM    #
  68. I thought the lawsuits were over the contract patrols to the Townships?

    It’s clear that residents living in communities with their own police departments are subsidizing those that rely on the county for service, whether through dedicated patrols or contracted patrols. If all of those communities dumped their police departments and requested the county provide patrol service, the amount of service provided to the communities that currently receive it would decline significantly and the cost of service to all communities would have to increase proportionally.

       —John Q.    Sep. 18 '09 - 06:27PM    #
  69. John Q.

    It’s not clear. The sheriff department is mandated and the costs are shared by assessing a county-wide millage. Whether or not any community wants dedicated or contracted patrols, we still pay the same millage for the county sheriff. The fair cost for dedicated patrols should be the cost of the patrols themselves. If every community dropped their police departments and the county were policed only by Deputies, then the aggregate costs would be much lower than it is currently. Regional cooperation would benefit everyone in this instance. However, when communities decide to provide a separate police department, in addition to the mandated County Sheriff, then they willingly choose to pay twice. The extra costs are due to their own choices, and can’t be reasonably blamed on the communities that choose not to create another layer of police services. It is not fair to make the townships pay a disproportionate share of the administrative costs of the county department because of other communities’ choices. The administration, and its associated costs, exists independent of contracted patrols.

       —EOS    Sep. 18 '09 - 08:39PM    #
  70. “The fair cost for dedicated patrols should be the cost of the patrols themselves.”

    Do the cost of the contracted patrols include all of the administrative overhead that go with those?

    “It is not fair to make the townships pay a disproportionate share of the administrative costs of the county department because of other communities’ choices. “

    Why not? Those communities gain a disproportionate share of the non-contracted patrols because the sheriff is generally not patrolling to those communities with their own departments.

       —John Q.    Sep. 18 '09 - 11:20PM    #
  71. The Sheriff is mandated to manage the jail. The Sheriff is NOT mandated to provide police patrol services to any jurisdiction.

    John Q. is correct – if a township contracts with the county for services (and the contract is with the Board of Commissioners, not with the Sheriff, although the Sheriff agrees to it), each deputy is being subsidized by General Fund taxes, which are paid by everyone, whether or not they have their own police depts. It is only fair that all costs should be included, but at this time, they are not.

    The General Fund millage would not be able to sustain the cost of police patrol services for every jurisdiction, which is why it is not a mandated service.

       —Leah Gunn    Sep. 19 '09 - 01:18AM    #
  72. Leah –

    Please stop spreading misinformation. I agree: The Sheriff is NOT mandated to provide police patrol services to any jurisdiction, nor is any jurisdiction required to contract with the Sheriff for dedicated patrols. The Sheriff IS required to maintain sufficient numbers of trained deputies to respond to any major emergency in the county, to have vehicles for them to use, and an administration to oversee the operation. I didn’t pull this information out of thin air: it’s on the county web site. If you don’t believe me, ask Barbara Bergman – she’s the board’s liason on the task force.


    [Homeland Security Task Force

    The Washtenaw County Homeland Security Task Force (also known as the Local Planning Team or LPT) was created by the Board of Commissioners to coordinate all county homeland security activities with federal, state and local governments; assess terrorism risks, response capabilities and needed improvements; develop community guidance and emergency response procedures; and recommend to the Board of Commissioners about utilization of federal and state homeland security grant funds.

    Meet The Staff

    Marc C. Breckenridge
    Director of Emergency Management
    and Homeland Security

    Marc was appointed as Director of Emergency Management in 1993 and is deputized by the Washtenaw County Sheriff. He came to the division in 1992 after serving twelve years in the Emergency Medical Services field. Marc is administrative head of the department and serves as Chair of the Homeland Security Task Force, Emergency Coordinator for the Local Emergency Planning Committee, founding member and treasurer of the Hazardous Materials Response Team Authority Board, and as Washtenaw County’s representative and Vice-chair of the Southeast Michigan Homeland Security (UASI) Board.]

    So, when there is no emergency, the entire county can pay for these deputies to sit on Hogback road in a state of preparedness, OR the townships can help subsidize the costs of this force by contracting for patrols. To make the townships pay a disproportionate amount of the administrative costs is not equitable.

    If the entire county decided to use the Sheriff department for policing, the county millage would have to increase, but the aggregate costs would decrease, since each community would not collect taxes to fund their individual departments. The economies of scale would also decrease the costs to the townships now contracting for dedicated patrols. It’s a win-win.

       —EOS    Sep. 19 '09 - 03:30AM    #
  73. Leah knows what she is talking about. She is not “spreading misinformation”. EOS’s clip on the Homeland Security task force proves nothing except that we have one dedicated officer who has this responsibility. All the other officers are almost certainly deputies with a full roster of tasks who can be called on if needed. (Ever hear of “cross-training”?) There aren’t any deputies sitting in easy chairs at Hogback, waiting for work.

    Let’s be clear: the real problem is that Ypsilanti township has not been willing to pay its fair share. Really, they should get their own police force, as all other urban entities have. Even now, we could afford to provide police services to the rest of the townships in the county if Ypsilanti Township would pay its fair share. Even the little rural townships have had to pay part of their taxes to support Ypsi T’s deputy allotment. Because YT’s deputy allotment is one-half (roughly) of the total county’s, the subsidy to it hurts everyone. The lawsuit was just the poison icing on the cake, hobbling the county when it needed to be providing vital services.

    Also, there is no millage dedicated to police services, as EOS seems to imply, but only the general operation millage, that has to support all departments.

    Regarding administrative costs, administrative chargebacks are included in all departments’ budgets. Asking consumers of specific services to pay that chargeback is only equitable.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Sep. 19 '09 - 05:58AM    #
  74. As you all know, Vivienne Armentrout was a former County Commissioner, and she knows what she is talking about. Thank you for your clarification, Vivienne.

    None of us has any idea who EOS is, and s/he blogs under a pseudonym. Therefore, that person lacks any credibility. This will be my last commment on this subject.

       —Leah Gunn    Sep. 19 '09 - 06:36AM    #
  75. Nothing but partisan B.S. Oh well, hoped for more but didn’t really expect it. Tell me, if no community contracted for dedicated patrols, and there is no requirement for patrols, then in an emergency, who will guard the jail? And other than maintaining the jail, what is the full roster of tasks of the deputies?

       —EOS    Sep. 19 '09 - 06:08PM    #
  76. EOS

    Surprisingly enough, you and I may actually agree on something: it quite possibly /would/ be more efficient to have the Sheriff’s Dept be the police agency for the entire County, or otherwise look to larger, regional, policing entities rather than piecewise, every-city-and-township-has-their-own. There was just the study a year and a half ago showing that City of Ypsi and 6 townships could save $1.8m annually over current costs by forming a regional policing authority.

    I’m not going to try to claim that the study came up with the One True Way, but it’s a proof of concept that efficiencies of scale are possible – even when you have a theoretical PD covering Ypsi and Scio, and jumping over Ann Arbor and Pittsfield to get between them.

    At the time that study was done, Ypsilanti Township opted not to participate, and the results showed that most of the savings would accrue to Ypsi City – the muni that was at the time paying full costs for their policing – so it would be interesting to see the numbers redone with the post-lawsuit numbers for the Townships, and see if the savings would be that much higher.

    But, as you know, the problem is not actually the numbers – this is certainly a situation with potential Pareto efficiency – a cost distribution formula could be determined that would save everybody money over current costs. But trying to talk about that just ends up with everybody shouting about their own version of “true costs” and objecting to “subsidizing” anybody else.

       —Murph    Sep. 19 '09 - 07:46PM    #
  77. Murph –

    I was talking about a county wide police force including everyone in the county. I read the study of the regional force proposed by the City of Ypsilanti, and only the City and one township would save significantly. From the link you provided, in the Ypsi City proposed regional force, collectively, the townships would pay $1.1 million more, the City of Ypsi would save $2.9 Mil, for an overall cost savings of 1.8 Mil. It was more about getting other communities to fund and rebuild the infrastructure of the City of Ypsilanti, than a true regional force.

    The county is the level of regional government and the appropriate agency to handle a regional force. But Ann Arbor has to be on board, otherwise they’ll try to push off their obligation to fund the county sheriff on the rest of the county, as they currently do with the Townships.

       —EOS    Sep. 19 '09 - 11:45PM    #
  78. “Tell me, if no community contracted for dedicated patrols, and there is no requirement for patrols, then in an emergency, who will guard the jail?”

    The deputies and staff who work in the jail. People who staff the jails do not do road patrols in Washtenaw County or any other large county in Michigan.

    “But Ann Arbor has to be on board, otherwise they’ll try to push off their obligation to fund the county sheriff on the rest of the county, as they currently do with the Townships.”

    Garbage. Ann Arbor’s contribution to the sheriff’s dept. is far beyond what the city gets in return.

       —John Q.    Sep. 21 '09 - 06:52AM    #
  79. John Q –

    You don’t get it. The county accepts Federal and State grants to fund emergency response. If we have a disaster or emergency, they are obligated to provide trained personnel to respond and coordinate procedures. Currently, the deputies who are paid to provide dedicated patrols in the Townships, would stop the patrols and work to alleviate emergency needs. If the Townships didn’t fund these patrols, if instead they formed their own departments or contracted with another agency, the county would still have to pay for a force of deputies to provide emergency response, and all jurisdictions in the county have to pay for it.

    The Townships’ contributions to the Sheriff’s department are far beyond what they get in return. There are no patrols that regularly cruise my neighborhood and I have to go to the station to make a report – there’s no response at my door. Having its own police force does not eliminate the obligation of the cities to pay for county sheriffs who provide quite a lot of services to the cities. Whether you agree or not, it’s mandated by State law. You chose to create your own police forces, knowing full well that your obligations to pay full share to the county would still continue. It’s not the Townships fault that you voluntarily pay for overlapping coverage.

       —EOS    Sep. 21 '09 - 04:37PM    #
  80. EOS

    Ok, first off, we’re talking busses here. has a thread on police service, folks. But since we’re here..

    I think what you’re forgetting is all of the extra expense incurred by providing you with services out in the sticks. I live less than a mile from fire and police protection in the city of Ypsilanti. The chances of a Deputy Sherriff showing up if I have a problem: nill.

    My dad recently retired as the under sherriff of a nearby county. He explained police service like this: the county has too much area to cover to take care of the city. There are more people in the city, and so more crime, or at least more events that require police attention. All of the county’s time and resources would be taken up if we were also the primary city police force. No one else would get any service. So, while we can patrol the city, we really function as more of a back up role there, and a primary police force in the more rural areas.

    There you have it. The fact that we as city residents pay for our own police service is what provides you for what little service you get. And you get limited service because you aren’t willing to pay for it. Or live with in 50 yards of your neighboors. You likely live over five miles from any service, police fire, water, what ever. Therefor, any services you get are more costly in time and material. Not to mention the extra green house gasses you pump out while commuting to your job in a more populated area. So who is costing who? I think a sprawl tax could easily cover the extra expense that you defer to the rest of the county residents to pay. After all, it is the willingness of city residents to pay our own way, that allows you to get the services you do from the county.

    But realy, all of this is petty. We’re all in it toghether here in Michigan, like it or not. Work together or sink into the pit. It’s up to you. We’re ready here in the city. Are you willing to be a part of the solution?

       —Andy Ypsilanti    Sep. 21 '09 - 07:34PM    #
  81. Andy –

    The patrols that the townships pay for are in the cities helping the police get the bar crowd home. They are backing up Ypsi City cops more often than they are in my neighborhood. They are at the football game helping to direct traffic and helping guard the cash collected there. They are working with other law enforcement to bust drug houses in the cities. They’re the ones who go out on the Huron River to rescue stranded canoeists. The sad fact is, the stress caused by high density urban life causes more crime and creates the need for greater police services per capita. The sad fact is, the city of Ypsi does not have enough police on its force, so they frequently use the patrols that are paid for by the Township. But that’s O.K. because there isn’t any real need most of the time for these Sheriff’s in the Township. We’re all in this together. But pay your way – or at least an equal share of the services that you use disproportionally.

    I live much closer to the utilities than city residents. Electrical substations and Water treatment facilities can’t afford to locate within City limits. I live much closer to the stores I shop at than city residents. I don’t commute to a job in a more populated area of the county. I’m not protected by your fire stations nor can I be accused of flushing city toilets. I’m not increasing traffic on your city roads. So who is costing who? It’s you and other residents of the cities who want high levels of services yet don’t want to pay for them. It’s you who wants me to pay for your buses and to pay for your police. The solution is for you to pony up the cash for the benefits you receive and stop trying to devise new ways for others to carry your burdens.

       —EOS    Sep. 21 '09 - 09:34PM    #
  82. EOS,
    First, I live a block from the entertainment district in Ypsi. There are never, ever county Sherriff Officers there. I don’t live in A2, but I was at the UofM game over the weekend. Not so many county sheriffs there either, over all, and by the way, the University is on the hook for police services at those events. EMU’s stadium is in the Township, so it’s not in Ypsi city’s jurisdiction. Drug enforcment is handled in a county wide effort, with city forces contributing to work in the townships also (check out LAWNET, that’s how it’s done in Washtenaw County) Ypsi’s power station is two blocks from my place. And I guess the entire Huron River and all of the accidents that happen on it occur within the city limits?
    Dedicated township patrols are just that. They are paid for and used in the townships. The townships have substations for those patrols. The regular road patrols can be used in the anywhere in the county. I know you are going to want to argue this, but I’m pretty sure I’m right on this one. I lived with these issues every day for over 18 years, and heard a lot about them for another 14. As you like to point out, sheriff’s departments are state regulated, so it’s all about the same from county to county.
    My taxes have to pay for roads that stretch into the cornfields I will never travel. For sheriff road patrols that go into area I’ll never travel. I mean, why should my gas and other taxes pay for a road that leads to a subdivision in a field that I would just assume stay a field? I live in the city to enjoy all its benefits, like restaurants, shopping and night life, and to preserve the open spaces, so I can use those when I want to. Keep our farm land farms, and our wilderness wildernes. If you want to invade those spaces, you should be required to pay a luxury tax for that privilege, and to cover the additional expenses paid by the state and counties that allow you to live out there.
    You also refuse to answer anything about the city based services used in the townships. What about the thousands of township residents that use the AATA? Ypsi TOWNSHIP has a rocketing crime rate, climbing much faster than the city. Most of the recent spree of break-ins has been in the townships. Assault, murder, all in the townships. So where is it we need the sheriff to be? Oh, I know that a lot of township residents would like to consider those areas part of the city, and in any other state they would have been annexed years ago, but not in Michigan. Those of you who have chosen to live in the sticks have fought to keep those areas independent, costing our cities billions in tax dollars. But when it comes to discussions on crime and services, those areas are lumped in as part of the city. You conveniently ignore the facts in favor of right wing idealism and “tax fairness”.
    Your over -all tax argument is deeply flawed, by the way. There are more of us in the cities, thus we pay more taxes. It would work even better if we could annex the township areas that have become cities attached to cities. Think of how much better Detroit would be if it had been allowed to annex its suburbs, like cities in most other states would do. It would help out you stick dwellers even more by taking those populated areas of the township under the wing of the city. As you seem to be running from populated areas, you should be totally behind this plan.
    I’ve said it again and again. We are all going to have to work together in Michigan if we want to survive. We allowed the unchecked sprawl and disallowed annexation. We allowed our cities to fail. Now we all have to pitch in to fix it. My taxes will help you. Yours will help me. There is no way around it, as much as you would like to think there is. We are all in it together. You can argue until you are blue in the face that you pay taxes to pay our way here in the city. But it goes both ways. Unless you plan to move out of Michigan, you are going to have to pony up and make contributions to rebuilding our state, no matter where we live. We put ourselves into this position, and we will have to work together to get ourselves out.

       —Andy Ypsilanti    Sep. 21 '09 - 11:44PM    #
  83. “Having its own police force does not eliminate the obligation of the cities to pay for county sheriffs who provide quite a lot of services to the cities.”

    List them.

    Your other claim that the Sheriff’s department fulfills the role of first responder in an emergency or disaster is equally bogus. In the cities where there are police and fire services, those people fill that role. It’s only in those communities where there are no first responders, save for the Sheriff dept. where there is a need for this service. Again, city taxpayers subsidizing services outside the city.

       —John Q.    Sep. 21 '09 - 11:59PM    #
  84. Leah Gunn, you put a chill into free speech when you require those who disagree with you to identify themselves. You are a powerful individual, so anyone within your sphere of influence would definitely hesitate to tick you off, else you could squish them like a little bug. Shame on you for saying someone “lacks any credibility” just because they refuse to give you their name, and risk falling under your vengeful wrath.

    And did you turn in your cell phone, yet? Oh, I’m just kidding. I know you told all those facing job cuts under the budget, “I’m as supportive of you as I can be.”

       —Michael Schils    Sep. 23 '09 - 03:38AM    #
  85. Wow, I have to say that I am shocked that my last comment posted without requiring me to enter the characters in the little picture. Because I have this little game I play where when I mouth off to government officials in a comment, and after I hit the submit button, I just type in five random characters without looking at the little picture. I figure that way if “fate” wants my target to receive my comment, then “fate” will make sure I typed in the correct characters. Maybe its lucky for me that “fate” hasn’t published me yet. Not until today, that is. Oh well.

       —Michael Schils    Sep. 23 '09 - 04:20AM    #
  86. Was any one able to make it to the hugely inconvienent 1pm meeting today? What was the result? I really wanted to go, but I have a job.

       —Andy Ypsilanti    Sep. 24 '09 - 12:39AM    #
  87. Ypsi bus routes staved by AATA stimulus money, thanks to Brian Robb for the update. Now we need to gear up for a county wide transportation millage on the ballot next November

       —Andy Ypsilanti    Sep. 24 '09 - 02:08AM    #
  88. Ooops. I should have said “saved”. The rest stands

       —Andy Ypsilanti    Sep. 24 '09 - 02:20AM    #
  89. Update on AATA – City of Ypsilanti Funding and Service


    Pete Murdock – City Councilmember – Ward Three

    With the action of the AATA board on September 23rd, the Ypsilanti City Council has secured an expanded contract for public transportation with no service reductions through June 30, 2011. The details of this agreement are as follows.


    For the first time, the City and AATA will be entering into a service contact that is longer than one year. The contract will run twenty-one (21) months from October 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011. This secures and stabilizes the public transportation services in the City of Ypsilanti while a more permanent funding solution is pursued.


    There are no service reductions in the new extended contract.


    The City Council has pledged an amount of $218,000 for the AATA contract for FY 2010-11 – an increase of $ 60,000 over this year’s allocation. The City’s commitment for the two year cycle is now $ 376,000.


    AATA received $6.4 million dollars in stimulus money of which 10% can be used for operations. Stimulus money was awarded on a formula that contained Ypsilanti’s population and ridership. The AATA Board agreed to provide up to $ 202,000 to cover the shortfall for this contract period while a regional authority or other permanent funding mechanisms are pursued.


    A secure dedicated source of funding for public transportation is necessary for the long term. This contract gives us a little breathing room to develop such a program. A regional system – either County wide or consisting of the Urban communities, with a dedicated millage would provide the best service at the lowest overall cost. City Council, cannot by itself make that happen, but is committed to pursuing that goal with those that can – AATA, the City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.


    AATA’s decision to use Stimulus money to fill the shortfall was clearly based on the City’s commitment to the two year funding cycle as well as the City Council’s commitment, in the event that no regional system emerges, to place on the November 2010 ballot, a Headlee override – City Charter Amendment (.9 mil) designated for the sole purpose of funding public transportation. Without the commitment to securing dedicated funding in the long term and the two year funding in the near term, it was unlikely that the AATA would have authorized the use of the stimulus funds for Ypsilanti.

       —Pete Murdock    Sep. 25 '09 - 08:21PM    #
  90. From Advance Ypsilanti.
    Five-for-5 Initiative Kickoff
    September 29, 2009
    6:15 PM – 7 PM
    Ypsilanti Senior Center, Recreation Park
    1015 N. Congress St.
    Together we can fight to protect public transit — a necessary lifeline for many, a service
    that benefits everyone who lives or works in Ypsilanti, a means to a more walkable and
    sustainable community, and a key component to the success of the Detroit-to-Ann Arbor
    commuter rail project.
    We must maintain public transit at its current levels both now and for the future!
    AY PAC’s “Five-for-5” initiative asks you to do one or more of the following:
    ! Take 5 minutes to email city council members and let them know you don’t
    approve of voting on such an important issue with no public notice or
    opportunity for community input!
    ! Spread the word to 5 friends/neighbors about the importance of public
    transit and how city council must not gamble with it
    ! Contribute $5 (or more) to AY PAC. Help us fight to protect public transit and
    insure that the public will be informed when decisions regarding transit and other
    major issues are to be made.
    Visit the AY PAC website for more information at Join us
    on Tuesday, September 29 for the “Five-for-5” event in Ypsilanti to show support.
    We must resist cuts that threaten the accessibility, convenience and reliability of public
    transit. If we don’t act now, we will have to fight for public transit again and again.
    Let’s solve this problem together for the long term benefit of all.
    Send email…Talk to friends/colleagues…Give to support our efforts.

       —Andy Ypsilanti    Sep. 26 '09 - 01:53AM    #
  91. It’s great news that Obama stimulus funds will be used to maintain Ypsi bus service. “Yes we can!”

       —David Cahill    Sep. 29 '09 - 04:49AM    #
  92. I’d like to remind everyone that Advance Ypsilanti is holding a meeting to discuss a long term plan for Ypsilanti busses today. I’m expecting to hear about a county or regional millage for transit, and a Hedley Overide Amendment for a millage with in the city if the regional proposal fails to make the ballot. I have it on good authority that the Mayor, several council members and folks from Keep Ypsi Rolling will be there, so this should be an interesting exchange of ideas. Here’s hoping we’re talking about soulutions to fund our busses, and not grinding any political axes. Let’s make this a quality of life issue, not a politcal football. Please. The info on the meeting is in a post above. 6:15pm tonight @ Ypsi Senior Center, 1015 N. Congress

       —Andy Ypsilanti    Sep. 29 '09 - 09:16PM    #
  93. Just some thoughts on transit after attending last night’s AY PAC transit meeting.

    First, the AATA is already funded by taxes. In A2 there is a dedicated millage. In Ypsilanti and all of the townships that are served, the AATA is paid from the general fund. What a regional millage would mean is a reimagining of the AATA; a transformation from the Ann Arbor Transit Authority to an Ann Arbor AREA Transit Authority. The AATA already services the most densely populated areas of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Superior, Pittsfield and other townships. It also includes express service to Chelsea and Canton, and servers hundreds of commuters from outlaying areas through park and ride. Instead of each area paying for service separately from their general funds (read: tax revenue) it would be a unified tax specifically for transit, hopefully including the A2 to Detroit rail system.

    A tax of this type does not have to be a county wide tax. It could be applied to those cities and townships that receive bus (and rail service). In theory, this regional approach would be easier to pass than a county wide millage. But it will still be an uphill battle. Many township residents don’t believe they receive any benefit from bussing, however, if they make any regular trips to A2 they do. Less traffic, more available parking spaces, and less pollution are benefits that anyone who goes into A2 experience. Many township residents don’t believe the bus even services their area. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people who live in township apartments would tell them otherwise. A regional solution could also entail expanded bus service into the townships.

    With all of that said, even with all of the feelings around the area that it is high time that we have a modern, useful and far reaching transit plan, just as all successful metro areas have, we may not be able to bring this issue to the ballot. It is in the hands of the AATA to lead the way, and they may choose not to. In that case, Ypsilanti must be prepared to find a way to pay its own way for the services rendered by the AATA. Given our current financial woes, the only viable solution is to move out of the general fund model (the same fund that covers police, fire, DPW, parks, ect.) and into its own transit millage, just like A2. A Headlee Rollback Millage may not be the best solution, or the solution we want, but it may be our only solution. This type of millage could be written to end in the event a regional transit solution is enacted. This could mean that a millage could appear on the ballot WITH a regional proposal, and take effect in the event that the regional millage is voted down, or be voted on now in the event the AATA won’t put forward a proposal, and end in the future if a regional millage is later passed.

    I attended this meeting. I hoped to hear an open discussion of all possible solutions for bussing. Instead, what we got was more along the lines of political positioning. If we are going to be successful in finding funding for transit in Ypsilanti and beyond, we are going to have to put politics aside. The suggestion by council members and Keep Ypsi Rolling that we be prepared with a solution for local Ypsilanti funding was roundly dismissed by many members of AY PAC. That kind of political posturing will get us nowhere. We need to have a fallback position prepared.

    We need a regional transit solution to cover both bussing and rail. All successful metro areas have transit. But Michigan has a strong tradition of no cooperation between municipalities, and uncontrolled sprawl; we have been rewarded for this attitude with failing cities. We may not be able to push the solution we need through to a successful vote. We need to be prepared to offer a local solution for Ypsilanti if we can not cooperate as a region.

       —AndyYpsilani    Sep. 30 '09 - 10:57PM    #