DALLAS — The Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority failed to secure enough support to put a 20-year transportation tax on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The revenue would have been used fund a $4.6 billion transit plan for the region. The plan would have collected about $2.6 billion from county residents for 20 years through a 1.2-mil tax.
The new revenue was to finance more bus lines, a new rail link between Detroit and Ann Arbor and more direct access to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Board approval was required in order to send the millage request before the voters in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties and the city of Detroit.
Oakland and Macomb each had two representatives on the board vote who voted against putting the issue on the November ballot. They said their opposition comes from the exclusion of more than half a million county residents from the proposed service area.
"This isn't the plan that we were looking for," Chuck Moss, one of Oakland County's two representatives, said during a public meeting in Detroit. "This is not a regional transit plan; it's a regional taxation plan. It's a plan without transportation. No taxation without transportation."
The board now has two weeks to accommodate the demands of Oakland and Macomb counties and get the plan approved if it is to make it on the November ballot.
"The current regional master transit plan abandons more than half a million Oakland County residents in 40 of our communities, leaving them with little or no transit services but demanding they pay more than $700 million in taxes over 20 years," Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said in a press release. "I support regional transit, but I won't be stampeded into a bad deal."
Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United, told the Detroit Free Press that she was "outraged that four people could stand in the way of letting four million people in our region decide whether they want to vote and invest in public transit."
"The public needs a straightforward proposal that clearly identifies how the money will be spent," said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel in a press release. "We remain dedicated to working with the RTA to develop such a proposal."
Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said in a press release that failure to place the millage on the ballot in November could impede the progress that has been made in the region.
"Our citizens deserve the opportunity to vote on the Regional Transit Authority millage in November. Approval by the RTA Board of the RTA's master plan is a step in the right direction toward our shared vision for a world-class regional transit system," said Evans. "While individual concerns must be addressed, we cannot afford to once again delay development of true regional transit. It is too important to workers, students, and families throughout southeast Michigan."