America’s next president isn’t the only selection voters will make in the November election.
Closer to home, Salem-area voters will decide whether local buses will continue running on Saturdays. Along with the presidential question, the Nov. 4 ballot will ask voters to weigh in on Measure 24-247, a local option levy designed to maintain the routes now offered by Cherriots transit service.
“If the measure fails, we will cut all Saturday service, and we will be forced to make additional cuts,” said Lloyd Chapman, who represents south Salem on Cherriots’ board of directors.
If “yes” votes on Measure 24-247 prevail, property owners would see an increase in their taxes. The levy would increase – for five years – the bus system’s funding from 76 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to $1.25 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Practically speaking, the owner of a $150,000 home would see a $73-per-year tax increase. Unless they own property, Corban students wouldn’t be affected, although some could see their rental rates slightly increase.
Cherriots supporters have twice asked voters to approve the levy, and both times their efforts have failed.
In May 2006, 51 percent of voters approved it, but less than half of the district’s registered voters sent in their ballots, voiding the results. Oregon’s double majority law requires a turnout of at least half the voters to raise taxes. In November 2006, the proposal was defeated 49-to-51 percent.
After the failed November election, Cherriots reduced the frequency of many routes, but that wasn’t enough, Chapman said. Federal law requires the bus system to offer its CherryLift service for disabled riders whenever its buses are running. This popular service comes with a hefty price tag.
“Now CherryLift costs us $3 million per year,” Chapman explained. “The only way to cut out providing CherryLift is to stop providing all service on a certain day.”
Corban bus riders use Route #21, which runs between Willamette University and Marion County corrections facility. For Corban students who ride the bus, the elimination of Saturday routes is an unwelcome proposal.
“I’m planning on getting a job downtown and living downtown, and so it’s going to affect me because I rely on the bust to get around, especially on Saturdays,” says sophomore Erinn Streckfuss.
“If the levy doesn’t pass, it will definitely make it harder to get to school,” says Zack Jackson. “I will probably have to beg and steal in order to get to school in that case.”