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April 1 Vote Considered By Council

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April 1 Vote Considered By Council

$100,000 Loan To Finance Transit Operation Eyed

Ann Arbor voters apparently are going to say April 1 whether they want a bus system in the city, whether they want to float a $100,000 general obligation bond issue to finance capital investments and whether they will authorize tax millage related to operational expenses.

The City Council made no firm decision in a special meeting last night, but another special meeting is scheduled for Monday. If bus propositions are to go on the April ballot, a decision is necessary soon. It must be determined at least 45 days prior to the election date.

There apparently is a good possibility that any new local bus system not only will be city-owned but city-operated.

The city bus problem, in existence for about a year, reached a critical stage early this week when Great Lakes Greyhound Lines, owner of Ann Arbor City Bus, Inc., notified the city that the definite deadline for its city bus operations here will be March 5.

Developments Told

Other developments at the meeting last night included:

1) Doubts as to whether the city legally could embark upon a plan to keep some sort of bus service in existence in the interim between the time Greyhound gives up the operation and the time voters make a decision or a solution is effected; and

2) A question as to whether or not a proposal by a local group of men to operate buses in the city actually will move to the point of accomplishment in any form.

A decision on moving the bus situation to the ballot stage was delayed last night after Councilman Norman J. Randall urged that the millage subject be included with anything placed before the voters. He asked that the “full picture” be presented.

If voters authorize a tax mill-age to be used if needed for bus operation, it would be in addition to the levy for general city operations.

Suggests Broad Bond Issue

Councilman Charles W. Joiner pointed out that the capital investment required might also cover housing and maintenance facilities as well as buses and urged that any bond proposal be broad enough to include these.

Joiner also received the information from City Attorney Jacob F. Fahrner, jr., that the ballot proposals would be sufficient to permit combining a municipal bus system with the profitable parking system.

Joiner urged consideration of this idea as he cited the possible benefit of creating a “transportation utility.” The idea, first advanced several months ago by the mayor, would permit bus operation losses to be covered by parking system profits.

Councilmen had before them last night a draft of a resolution which scheduled separate propositions for the April 1 ballot.

One of the draft ballot proposals would ask voters if they want the city to acquire, own and operate a city transportation system. The other covered the bond question.

Eligibility Told

All voters would be eligible to vote on the acquisition question. Only those who own property in Ann Arbor and their spouses would be able to vote on the bond proposal.

The city attorney felt that the proposal as currently drawn to provide for city purchase of small buses, leasing them to a local group and a payment plan through which the group would acquire eventual ownership of the small buses would run into constitutional and charter-related difficulties.

Fahrner also cited statute provisions which he felt would prohibit the full savings enjoyed by the city in the way of fuel taxes for the group if they leased the buses. A part of the proposal was for fuel purchases at the city garage at city rates.

Fahrner said he felt the full savings would be possible if the group were only the operating agent of the city for a municipal bus system.

John W. Rae, attorney representing the local men, also pointed to the possibility of changing their proposal to make them operational managers only rather than an entity leasing the equipment.

City Administrator Guy C. Larcom, jr., cautioned the council about giving the impression to the local group, members of which were present, that the offer was to be dropped.

He pointed out that it was the last offer and the best of the few that had been made to the city.

Rae commented, however, that his group had gotten the idea, in view of the references to millage for operation and possible combining of a bus system with the parking system, that its offer was slipping from consideration.

Councilman A. D. Moore, who said he admired the planning involved in the proposal and thought the motives of the group good, at one point in the meeting expressed the viewpoint that it would be safer for the city to have a bus system which it also operated.