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Support DART millage Nov. 5

For the price of a single sit-down meal or a couple trips through a drive-thru, you can make sure a vital community service not only continues but perhaps has the opportunity to expand, without raising the cost to those who depend on that service to live a normal life.

Alpena voters will decide on Nov. 5 whether to raise the property tax they pay for Dial-a-Ride Transportation, or DART, from 0.65 mills to 1 mill. For the owner of a $100,000 house, that would mean an increase of about $17.50 per year. For the owner of a $50,000 house, the increase would be half that.

Last year, DART gave 90,177 trips to area residents, many of whom are elderly or have disabilities that prevent them from driving themselves. The top reasons for DART trips are for riders to shop for groceries or visit medical appointments, according to Thunder Bay Transportation Authority officials who oversee the DART program.

As its name suggests, residents call for a ride and are picked up at their front door and taken to anywhere in the DART service area.

The increase would allow TBTA to keep DART fares low — $1.50 is the most expensive trip — and allow officials to explore opportunities to expand the service to make sure more people who need it can get it.

If the tax should fail, officials said they would be forced to examine raising rates — which would hurt the many riders who are on a fixed income — or scaling back services, which could hurt all of the riders who need the public transportation system to keep food in their cupboards or prescriptions in their medicine cabinet.

The service has been around for more than 35 years, and voters have always overwhelmingly supported the property tax, including when it last was increased back in 2005.

We encourage you to do so again on Nov. 5.

(THE ALPENA NEWS)