Volunteers from Walker and the Kent County Taxpayers Alliance (KCTA) turned in over 1700 signatures to the Walker City Clerk’s office this afternoon to place a ballot measure before voters in November to exit The Rapid Bus System and its property tax authority. The effort began in May and culminated today in turning in 228 petitions which required hundreds of hours of volunteer time.
The city of Walker has consistently voted against the Rapid’s property tax increases yet because they are a smaller community than the city of Grand Rapids their high rejection of higher taxes has been overwhelmed by the vote totals from the larger city. Most recently, in May of last year, The Rapid had a tax increase pass by only a little over one hundred votes over the six cities. In that vote, the city of Walker rejected the tax increase by nearly 70%.
The petition drive began in part because of that high rejection rate and the fact that a large portion of the tax was to be used for the $50 million Silver Line bus that will travel in downtown Grand Rapids but not the cities of Walker, Grandville, and East Grand Rapids. Voters’ disapproval at the escalating property taxes is evident in the numbers of registered voters who signed the petitions.
Said KCTA spokesman Eric Larson, “We are very excited that our ballot initiative campaign in conjunction with Walker residents of the Walker Yes campaign were able to turn in more than the minimum number of signatures needed to put this measure on the ballot. The people of Walker will now be able to vote for the first time on whether they want to be a part of The Rapid or choose other options for their transportation needs.
“In going door to door and visiting with residents it was very clear that Walker citizens were unhappy with The Rapid bus system and their lack of options on how to most efficiently serve the needs of the city. If voters choose to exit The Rapid’s taxing district in November the remainder of the property tax renewal will have to expire and then city leaders can search for more efficient ways to provide services. By leaving The Rapid, Walker will now have the option of choosing competing services like the Hope Network for its paratransit needs. Also, Walker would be able to just pay for the service that travels through its city rather than support the expensive Silver Line bus on Division avenue that doesn’t even go to Walker.”
The Walker Yes campaign will begin active campaigning after the signatures are verified and the measure is officially on the ballot.
If you live in Walker and would like to help out with the educational campaign for November, please click here to contact us.
For much more detail on how The Rapid wastes taxpayer funds and fears accountability, please visit our ITP Watch web site.
Visit the Walker Yes web site by clicking here for updates, details, and to get involved.