File photo of a RAPID bus.
WALKER, Mich. (WZZM) -- In six weeks voters in Walker will decide whether they want to continue as part of the partnership that provides Rapid Bus Service to the city.
A group trying to reduce the amount they pay in property taxes put a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot that could withdraw Walker from the partnership in 2018.
On Wednesday city leaders and residents pushing to keep the busses running hosted a rally to get their message to voters. They want to keep the Rapid say the vote is about keeping people close to jobs, attractions and businesses.
But the people who want to withdraw Walker from the Interurban Transit Partnership say it comes down to money for a service that can be done for less.
Hopping on to the Rapid isn't an option for Walker resident Tom Gilson. Speaking for others with disabilities, he told a crowd of supporters the Rapid is his only option to get around.
"Eventually, I would have to sell my house and leave the area," Gilson said.
The group "Keep Walker Connected" is trying to convince voters that senior citizens, students, families, and even businessmen depend on that bus to get places, especially work.
"Well over half of the new surveys are upwards of 80% of the people on our buses are going to work and back. And if you take that away, these people are likely not going to be able to get a job," said Win Erwin, CEO of Irwin Seating.
Walker Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Holt says ridership on the Rapid is up 16% from last year.
"I guess I can report that the state of the Rapid is strong," Holt told the crowd at the Standale rally.
But the group pushing to exit the Rapid Bus System says they're not against the service -- just the property taxes they feel they unfairly have to shell out.
Ben Reisterer, chairman of the Walker Yes! Campaign, believes it's more cost effective for the city to contract with a bus service, despite Holt saying a new service would be too expensive.
"The Rapid's own internal documents show it only costs less than $800,000 to run those three routes through our city. If we're paying $1.4 million, if we can contract out for it we can save $600,000. I don't see where [Holt] doesn't think we can't save money," Reisterer said.
"The assessment on my house for the Rapid transit was $99.13. I spend more at a week at Meijer's or any other grocery store than I do a year on the assessement for the Rapid," said Gilson.
"The people that need and rely on the service can keep it, while the people that pay for it will get a tax cut and more control over their own money," said Reisterer.
It will be up to voters to assess what matters to them most in their community.
The current Rapid millage expires in 2018.
Regardless if the ballot question passes or fails in November, leaders of the Rapid will have to figure out how to fund it pass 2018.