The question of regional transit will make its way onto the November ballot, now that the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan has reached an agreement. Last month, Oakland and Macomb County officials criticized the plan’s funding structure, effectively blocking an earlier vote. Now, the RTA has made concessions to approve the plan by changing its governance structure.
The proposal creates a 1.2-mill levy on taxpayers for 20 years, which will generate $3 billion for the project. The new plan also creates a Funding and Allocations Committee that will decide how federal funds are spent and determines major route or service changes. Alma Smith, one of Washtenaw County’s representatives on the RTA Board of Directors, said the addition of the committee gets rid of regional consensus.
“It has the opportunity to create in one member of that committee a veto for anything the rest of the committee members might choose to do.”
Alma Smith, Washtenaw County RTA Representative
Tim Soave, who represents Oakland County and voted against the plan and millage last week, said the new Funding and Allocations Committee’s ability to veto proposals levels the playing field.
“All of us have a vote. All of us have equal standing. All of us have to agree on what changes are being made. By nature, it’s going to be a consensus. You’re going to get some who are not one or two communities gets overrun by something or gets left out of the discussion.”
Tim Soave, Oakland County RTA Representative
A majority of voters from Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties must approve the millage for the $4.7 billion transit plant to be implemented.