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DATA seeks renewal of its millage

ESCANABA — Many Delta County voters will have an opportunity to determine the future of funding for Delta Area Transportation Authority (DATA) on Tuesday, Aug. 4. A five-year millage renewal request for DATA will be included on the ballot that day in a number of local cities and townships.

The cities of Escanaba and Gladstone and the townships of Brampton, Ensign, Ford River and Masonville will be affected by the request. If the millage is renewed, area residents who own property that has a taxable value of $50,000 or a real value of $100,000 would pay roughly $30 per year or $2.50 per month.

The millage’s renewal would allow DATA to continue providing its transportation services. It would also cover demand response service, allowing residents of participating areas to be picked up at their door and dropped off at their desired location from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. Additionally, it was stated in the press release that the millage’s renewal could help reduce costs for riders.

DATA has been operating in Delta County since 1989. Today, it provides more than 116,271 rides per year in the county and has a fleet of 17 buses and three minivans. Most DATA riders use the authority’s services to access medical appointments, employment opportunities, shopping, college classes and social activities.

Executive Director of DATA John Stapleton said the authority’s revenues come from state and federal allocations, contracts with local agencies, rider fares and millages. State and federal funding for DATA is tied to local funding, and every dollar in expenses leads to a 52-cent match in government funding.

“While the amount of reimbursement from state and federal funding continues to go down, ridership demand is strong and our costs have gone up in past years. Utilities, maintenance, buses, tires, benefits and wages have all risen,” he said.

Stapleton encouraged people in the area to help people who rely on DATA’s services by voting in favor of the millage renewal in August.

“The quality of life and care for those with challenges is improved greatly, and I can’t emphasize this enough, with very little cost to property owners,” he said.

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