Keep Ypsi Rollin' has been the name of a few advocacy/campaign efforts to preserve and support the City of Ypsilanti's public transit service. The name first appeared in 2006, attached to an effort to amend the city's charter to set aside a certain amount of existing general fund revenues for public transit; that effort did not make the ballot. In 2010, the name was reused for the campaign backing a 0.98 mill Headlee Override, including a charter amendment to dedicate the funds from the override to public transit service for the City of Ypsilanti. That effort was successful, and the millage vote passed with a 75% "yes" vote.
The website for the more recent effort can be found at: http://www.keepypsirollin.org/
2010 Keep Ypsi Rollin' Campaign
In the Fall of 2009, the Ypsilanti City Council and AATA negotiated a 20-month contract that used Federal ARRA (stimulus) funds to cover a shortfall in Ypsilanti's purchase of service contract with AATA. Both parties acknowledged this to be a short-term solution only, and the City Council urged AATA to move forward with establishing the regional funding mechanisms that had been under discussion for some time. A new dedicated funding stream would have to be established in 2010 in order to allow for transit funds to be available in 2011.
In the spring of 2010, when it became clear that AATA would not be pursuing any new revenue streams in that year, the Ypsilanti Council placed a Headlee Override on the city's August ballot, which would restore 0.9789 mills to the general fund levy (to a total of 20 mills), as well as amend the City Charter so that the funds from this override would be permanently dedicated to providing public transit service. This charter amendment was supported unanimously by the City Council.
The charter amendment received a 70% "yes" vote on the August ballot - unfortunately, due to a technical error in the way it was placed on the ballot, this result was not counted, and the measure had to be replaced on the November 2010 general election ballot. Despite competing millages questions on the ballot (renewals of the Ypsilanti District Library and Washtenaw County parks millages) and a last-minute "no" campaign against all three millages funded by local landlords, the Charter Amendment for Public Transit passed with a 75% yes vote, winning all city precincts.
2010 Charter Amendment for Public Transit text
CHARTER AMENDMENT – PUBLIC TRANSIT
An amendment to Section 6.01 of Article VI, Taxation, of the City Charter to restore the levy of 0.9789 mills for Public Transit purposes.
This amendment will authorize, in any year a millage is NOT otherwise levied for county wide or regional public transit, or when needed to supplement a county wide or1 regional millage, as approved by City Council, a tax of 0.9789 mils solely for public transit purposes. Approval would increase the tax levy by 0.9789 mils as new additional millage in excess of the limitation imposed by law, restoring the authorized Charter millage to 20 mils, since reduced by the Headlee amendment. It is estimated that if levied, 0.9789 mills would raise approximately $281,429 when first levied in 2011.
2006 Keep Ypsi Rollin' Campaign
this section could use revision from the present tense to the historical
Keep Ypsi Rollin is the grassroots effort by local Ypsilantians to preserve bus service in Ypsilanti. The effort was triggered by an announcement that transit funding was to be phased out because of the City's ongoing budget woes, and first sought to make visible the importance of bus service to Ypsilanti residents. Thousands of signatures were gathered on online and paper petitions, which were presented to the City Council. This show of support served to open a dialogue on methods of preserving the bus service.
With a $170,000 payment from Ypsilanti to AATA at stake, several tactics have been discussed, and are at various stages of implementation:
- Ypsilanti's City Council and the Ypsilanti Township Board have expressed their support for a fare increase to $1.25 on the Ypsilanti portion of the system. AATA has expressed their willingness to pursue this, and estimates that it would provide $50,000 in additional revenue annually. Further increases would be likely to have diminishing returns, as riders would be priced off the system.
- As EMU, WCC, the arb:University of Michigan, local hospitals, and Ann Arbor's business community pull a large number of employees from Ypsilanti, as well as students at the colleges, those entities have a stake in continued transit service, and are being approached as partners in its preservation. Considering that the colleges are suffering from similar funding crises, of course, their contribution may be limited.
- KYR attempted to put an item on the November 2006 ballot that would earmark 0.65 mils of the existing City property tax for transit. This would require the City to dedicate approximately $225,000 out of the existing budget to transit service, guaranteeing that bus service would not be cut, but would require additional budget cuts to be made to other City services. KYR failed to submit the nexessary number of signatures by the deadline, however.
- In the longer term, the optimal strategy would be for a regional transit funding mechanism, perhaps County-wide, that would allow for a transit system that would be both more stable and provide better service. This option would, however, require AATA to reorganize, and support for transit funding in out-county areas is uncertain.
Updates also appear on Ypsidixit's Blog, the birthplace of the movement.
The 2006 City Charter ballot proposal received negative editorials -