Victory, defeat for DATA millage

ESCANABA – Voters in Escanaba Township narrowly approved a millage for Delta Area Transit Authority (DATA) bus services in Tuesday’s primary election, while the measure was defeated in Wells Township by a close margin.

Escanaba Township voters approved the DATA millage by a vote of 373 to 337. The millage will provide demand response and other related services for the elderly, persons with disabilities, the disadvantaged, and the general public.

The funding will be used for additional drivers and buses dedicated solely to the township, which allows for demand response services in these areas. Residents will be able to request service anytime from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“We know it was going to be really close as it was last year,” said DATA Director John Stapleton. “We’re really excited for what we’re going to be able to do in Escanaba Township to help those residents out.”

Currently, township residents’ requests for service are frequently denied due to lack of millage support. Prior to Escanaba Township’s millage passage the cities of Escanaba and Gladstone were the only municipalities to support DATA through a millage, therefore receiving priority service.

Though the millage passed in Escanaba Township, voters rejected the proposal in Wells Township by a vote of 445 to 419.

Stapleton said he was a little surprised the millage did not pass in Wells Township as its supporters in the township were the ones who asked to run it again.

Moving forward DATA will regroup to determine how to proceed following Wells Township’s millage defeat, though there has been no discussion yet.

Both millage proposals requested .5 mills (50 cents per $1,000 of state taxable value) on all property for a period of five years, 2014 to 2018 inclusive.

In Escanaba Township, an estimated $51,253.07 will be collected in the first year the millage is levied. Had the measure passed in Wells Township, it would have collected $117,857.75.

Stapleton expressed his thanks to all the DATA supporters who voted Tuesday.

“We want to thank the voters and the public for trusting us enough to vote for us,” he said. “We can’t do it without them.”