By K.D. Norris
A status report on a planned millage renewal for The Rapid regional public transit system took centerstage at the Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Government Matters meeting, which brings together government leaders of all levels to discuss issues of importance and presents those discussions through WKTV’s live, delayed and on-demand broadcasts.
At the Monday, Sept. 11, meeting at Wyoming City Hall, representatives of The Rapid explained some of the details of its millage renewal request set to appear on the Nov. 7 ballot. Among the points made were that it is not a new millage — increasing local property taxes — but the renewal of an existing millage which was passed in 2011; that the transit system, like may systems nationwide, is experiencing a decrease in ridership; and that the loss of local financial support would lead to the loss of state matching-funds support.
The bottom line, as explained by Peter Varga, Chief Operating Officer of The Rapid, is that “there is no good recovery” from the service cuts required due to the loss of local and state funds.
“We would start thinking about cutting services radically,” Varga said. “We would start having public hearings on how much service would be lost. Frankly, the prospect would be dissolution of the regional framework for transit.”
Among the other multi-level government discussions topics at the meeting were the value of the $30 million spend annually for the Pure Michigan tourism advertising program, the county Friend of the Court system and its working with child support problems, and the Secretary of State’s new efforts to implement the Federally required “Real ID” compliant state drivers licenses.
The Chamber’s Government Matters meetings include representatives of the cities of Kentwood and Wyoming, Kent County, local Michigan House of Representatives and Senate, and, often, representatives of other regional, State of Michigan and Federal elected officials. The next meeting will be Oct. 9 at Kentwood City Hall.
The meetings are on the second Monday of each month, starting at 8 a.m. WKTV Journal will produce a highlight story after the meeting. But WKTV also offers replays of the Monday meetings on the following Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Cable Channel 25. Replays are also available online at WKTV’s government meetings on-demand page (wktv.viebit.com) and on the chamber’s Facebook page.