CHICAGO – A compromise agreement to put a tax hike on the November ballot to support a $4.7 billion mass transit funding package for Southeastern Michigan could be voted on Thursday.
After failing to muster the needed votes at a transit board meeting last week, local leaders from Detroit and the counties of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Washtenaw met Tuesday and said they reached a tentative agreement. Some concerns must still be resolved, they said, and details of the compromise were not released.
The transit board vote on the ballot language failed last week due to opposition from Oakland and Macomb Counties. The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan has a special meeting set for Thursday ahead of a deadline later this month to put the 1.2 mill tax request to help fund the 20-year transit plan on the November 8 ballot.
"I am satisfied that the accord we reached today not only offers something for our 40 communities and over half a million residents previously left out of the transit plan, but also incorporates the necessary protections we were seeking for Oakland County taxpayers," Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson said in a news release.
"While there are still minor concerns that must be addressed, our goal is to improve the public transit system in southeast Michigan," Wayne County executive Wayne Evans said in a statement. "With this plan everybody wins. I remain committed to work with regional leaders over the next several days to ensure we get this important issue across the finish line and to the ballot for a November vote."
The transit agency would use the $2.6 billion of revenue collected from the tax to leverage state and federal funds for a $4.6 billion expansion of transit including additional bus lines, a new rail link between Detroit and Ann Arbor, and more direct access to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Oakland and Macomb's previous opposition stems from the exclusion of more than half a million county residents from the proposed service area, and some had raised concern over governance issues.