File photo of a RAPID bus.
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Property owners in Grand Rapids and five neighboring cities will pay higher property taxes to improve bus service in Kent County.
On Tuesday, voters in the six cities narrowly agreed to increase property taxes for Rapid operations from 1.12 mills to 1.47 mills, a 31% increase.
The increase passed by 136 votes.
"It couldn't be much closer," says Friends Of Transit Co-Chair David Doyle. "We expected a close race."
The Rapid will use the extra $15 million per year to expand service, increase frequency and operate a new "high-speed" bus route along Division Avenue called the "Silver Line."
The increase was rejected by voters in Walker, Wyoming, Kentwood and Grandville, but the margin of victory in Grand Rapids and East Grand Rapids was large enough to pass the proposal.
Kent County Familes for Fiscal Responsibility co-chairman Eric Larson said even though the tax increase passed, he and other opponents had an impact.
"Our goal in the campaign was to increase transparency and inform voters on the operation of the Rapid and let them make informed decisions," he says. "I think we accomplished that."