Election Day questions address transportation issues

| 10/14/2009

On Nov. 3, ballots in communities throughout the country will address a wide array of topics. Land Line recently took a look at transportation-related initiatives on local ballots. Included here is a sampling of what was found.

Voters in two northwest Indiana counties will participate in a state-mandated referendum on regional transportation. Ballots in Porter and St. Joseph counties are expected to include a question asking voters whether they support the creation of a four-county transportation district for a region-wide rail system and a bus transportation system, which are intended to help free up local roads. The district would have authority to impose a proportional tax of up to 0.25 percent to fund projects.

While only two counties need to approve the transportation district to move forward, four counties – including Lake and LaPorte – are required to vote on the referendum. The counties that don’t put the question before voters next month are likely to wait until November 2010 before deciding on the issue.

Ballots in the city of Kalamazoo, MI, will include a question that would affect property tax. Voters will be asked whether they want to approve a tax levy of 0.6 mills to support Metro Transit service within the city from 2010 to 2012.

If approved, the total levy for transportation within the jurisdiction would be 1.0 mills. In May, voters approved a countywide increase of 0.4 mills to aid transit options.

In Cincinnati, voters will decide whether to keep the final say on any rail issue or give the city council the last word.

If approved, a public vote would be required on all rail-related projects in Cincinnati that use city taxpayer money. This would include the city’s proposed streetcar system, any regional light-rail, and the proposed high-speed rail connector with Columbus and Cleveland.

Other local ballot questions around the country include a pair of sales tax measures. On Nov. 10, voters in Plattsmouth, NE, will decide whether to add a half-cent to the city’s current sales tax rate. A portion of the revenue is expected to be used for street improvements and maintenance.

In Louisiana, voters in West Feliciana Parish head to the voting booth on Nov. 14 to decide whether to implement a 1-cent sales tax. A portion of the revenue would go toward maintaining roads and bridges.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor