According to a recent article in the Detroit Free Press, your state of Michigan politicians are  spending $1.1 million a year of our taxpayer dollars to lease 23 passenger rail cars it can't use — and it looks like will not use — for the foreseeable future.

Remember that your Michigan politicians, both Democrat and Republican, are asking you to increase your sales tax from 6 to 7 percent, so they can have another $1.85 billion a year to be able to spend more money on projects like this.

What are they wasting our citizens of Michigan tax dollars on?

Well, apparently some brilliant politician or bureaucrat thought we needed 1950s and '60s-era double-decker rail cars before implementing an operable commuter service plan — or funding plan — for the vehicles.

According to the Detroit Free Press, "The Michigan Department of Transportation started leasing the cars in 2010 for two commuter rail passenger services proposed between Detroit and Ann Arbor, and Howell and Ann Arbor.  But nearly five years later, none of the cars has logged a single commuter passenger mile. There still is no funding and no operator for either proposed commuter service, required environmental studies are not complete, and in the case of the Detroit-Ann Arbor service, even the tracks won't be ready for another two years."

So here's what has Michigan wasted on the boondoggle, in my opinion, so far according to the Detroit Free Press:

  • Michigan has paid the owner of the rail cars, Great Lakes Central Railroad, about $7.6 million to overhaul the cars and another $2.7 million in lease charges.
  • But the per-car lease costs more than doubled in 2013 and 2014 as refurbishments were completed and the cars were certified as rail-worthy.
  • Under the terms of the state's contract with the railroad, MDOT then had to start paying "in-service" rates that total about $3,000 a day, even though the cars are just sitting in a railway maintenance yard in Shiawassee County about 30 miles northeast of Lansing.
  • MDOT has paid another $1.1 million to its consultant on the rail car project, Pennsylvania-based Quandel.

That means the politicians and/or bureaucrats have wasted approximately $11.4 million spent as of Dec. 31.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the wasted tax dollars came from: Michigan's $300-million Comprehensive Transportation Fund, which is largely raised from fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees and is mainly used to pay for transit and rail. Under state law, at least 10% of appropriations from the fund must be allocated for intercity passenger services, which includes rail projects. Michael Frezell, a spokesman for MDOT, said the project money came from that allocation and could not have been spent on roads, though it could have been spent on other eligible projects such as a bus service between two Michigan cities or another rail-related project.”

Sounds like they need more tax dollars to fix our infrastructure?”

Before asking the citizens of Michigan and our visitors to pay more taxes, should they first clean up their house?

Are you thinking that in this is government there will always be some person who wastes our tax dollars, so let’s go ahead and give them more?

Let’s us discuss this today on my show the Live with Renk show, which airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon, to let me know your thoughts at (269) 441-9595.

Or please feel free to start a discussion and write your thoughts in the comment section.