From Indy to Kalamazoo: results of transportation ballot initiatives

| 11/6/2009

With Election Day in the side view mirror, voters have made their decision on transportation-related initiatives in communities throughout the country. OOIDA’s Land Line recently took a look at many of these issues. Included here are the results of some local ballot issues.

Voters in two Northwest Indiana counties wanted nothing to do with the creation of a regional transportation district and the potential for an income tax increase.

Porter County voters rejected the referendum by a 4-to-1 margin. It failed by a whopping 18-to-1 margin in St. Joseph County.

They were the only two of four associated counties to vote on the state mandated referendum. Lake and LaPorte counties defied the mandate and didn’t hold elections. There were no penalties for counties that didn’t vote on the issue.

The failed referendum sought to create a four-county transportation district for a region-wide rail system and a bus system serving Lake and Porter counties. Intended to help free up local roads, the measure would have given the district the authority to impose a proportional tax of up to 0.25 percent to fund projects.

Transit will get a boost in the city of Kalamazoo, MI. By a 3-to-1 margin, voters approved a tax levy of 0.6 mills to support bus service within city limits for the next two years. It is estimated the city tax will generate $1 million annually.

The tax will bring the total levy for transportation within the jurisdiction to 1.0 mills. In May, voters approved a countywide increase of 0.4 mills to aid transit options.

In Cincinnati, voters decided to give the final say on any rail issue to the city council.

By a 56-44 percent margin, city voters turned down a chance to amend the city charter to give the public the last word on whether to proceed on all rail-related projects in Cincinnati that use taxpayer money. This includes the city’s proposed streetcar system, any regional light rail, and the proposed high-speed rail connector with Columbus and Cleveland.

Other local questions on ballots around the country next week include a pair of sales tax measures. On Tuesday, 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 be used for roads and bridges.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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