NEW HAVEN TWP. —On Tuesday, New Haven Township residents will decide whether or not to approve a Shiawassee Area Transportation Agency (SATA) millage that, if approved, would allow township residents to receive increased services from the agency.

SATA provides bus rides to county residents within its service areas. If the millage passes, New Haven Township will levy about 0.3 of a mill over four years.

Officials estimate the township will receive up to $15,497 in the first year if the millage is approved.

According to Mary Rice, the executive director of SATA, in order for the agency to increase services in a municipality, it must become a “participating governmental unit,” which involves passing a millage to share the burden of costs.

Rice said township residents will enjoy many different benefits if the millage is passed.

“They will receive a discount on the cost of rides and they will also have the ability to reserve a ride as far as a year in advance,” Rice said. “Another benefit is that residents will be able to reserve recurring rides, so, for example, they could go to dialysis (treatments) three times a week and they could book those appointments as far as a year out. Currently, with nonparticipating communities, they can only do that the day before or the day of a needed ride.”

Rice said the number of participating governmental units has continued to expand since SATA’s inception in 2000.

Currently, most of SATA’s coverage area is in the center of the county, she said.

The cities of Owosso, Perry, Laingsburg, Corunna and Durand and Owosso, Caledonia, Venice, Bennington, Shiawassee, and Vernon townships are all participating governmental units.

Rice said she hopes more county municipalities come on board because often transportation struggles are greatest in more rural areas.

“New Haven Township would be the first on that northern border,” Rice said.

The Friends of SATA is a group that has supported several SATA related ballot measures around the county.

According to the Friends of SATA, there is a big need for the service in New Haven Township because of the number of older citizens.

”Out of the approximately 389 households in New Haven Township, there are approximately 200 households with someone 65 or older living alone,” Julie Pennington, a New Haven township resident and transportation advocate, said. “I am so sure that this is the right thing to do for our community that I’ll bet the farm.”

For every $50,000 in taxable valuation, the cost is just $5.91 per year,” she continued. “If our township participates in SATA, folks 60 and older can ride the SATA bus free from 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.”

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