The City of Auburn Hills missed a key deadline to be assured the ability to opt out of bus service provided by SMART, according to Marie Donigan, the chair of the Oakland County Public Transportation Authority. OCPTA is the group empowered by the state to contract out SMART in the county.
On Monday, the Auburn Hills City Council voted 5-2 to withdraw from OPTCA, which collects millage payments for Oakland County communities on behalf of SMART. It also approved language to put on the August ballot asking voters if they want to pay 0.5 mills to create a city-run transportation system exclusively for seniors and adults with disabilities.
According to state law, Donigan says Auburn Hills’ City Council would have needed to vote to opt of service before the end of January this year, which is when the millage ends, in order to do it unchecked. Since the council didn’t vote until Feb. 21, Donigan says its action will not be recognized without a two-thirds vote by the OCPTA, which isn’t guaranteed to happen.
“OCPTA could accept it at this time or reject it,” Donigan says. “Or take no action whatsoever since I really haven’t seen anything from them.”
Donigan says Auburn Hills has not contacted OPTCA and the authority isn’t required to vote on the issue. She says at this point, the only other way that the city could opt out of SMART’s bus service is if it put the question on the ballot and the majority of voters approved it.
In 2018, 77% of Oakland County voters, including Auburn Hills residents, supported a millage to fund SMART.