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Metro Detroit's Millage Tax Comes Within Half a Percentage Point of Passing

A $4.6 billion transit plan proposed by the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan received 49.5 percent of the vote on November 8. The millage tax would have funded bus rapid transit and regional rail within a four-county region.
November 17, 2016, 9am PST | Irvin Dawid
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Planetizen's Oct. 27 post by contributing editor Philip Rojc sounded optimistic on the outlook for passage of the regional transit plan:

All signs point to broad regional support for the measure. "Some opposition emerged from the northern suburbs, but key political actors who could have blocked it, like Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson (the 'Sprawl King') have opted not to."

In fact, the northern suburbs in Macomb County killed the measure. Only 40 percent of county voters supported the critical transit measure, ensuring its defeat, reports Ryan Stanton for The Ann Arbor News on on Nov. 9. Patterson had played an important role in killing an earlier version of the transit plan.

  • In Wayne County, with all precincts reporting, it received 53% support.
  • In Oakland County, with all precincts reporting, received 49.91% support.
  • In Washtenaw County, with all precincts reporting, it received 56% support.

In an email on Wednesday evening, Stanton confirmed that the 'yes' votes from the four counties totaled 49.5 percent.

The RTA expressed its disappointment on its homepage with a statement by Paul Hillegonds, Chair of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and Michael Ford, CEO of the RTA:

It leaves southeast Michigan as the only large region in the nation (and one of a few in the world) without a functioning regional rapid transit system

According to RTA's Master Plan, the millage tax would have been "at a rate of 1.2 mills ($1.20 per $1,000 of taxable value) for 20 years beginning in 2016 and ending in 2035."

"The tax would have cost the owner of a home with a $200,000 market value and a $100,000 taxable value about $120 per year," writes Stanton. "It's estimated it would have generated more than $160 million in revenue for the RTA in the first year."

By law, transit advocates must wait two years before they can try again with the voters.

Rojc wrote earlier that the plan would have added:

[F]our bus rapid transit (BRT) lines connecting Detroit to regional employment centers outside the city proper (as far as Pontiac and Ann Arbor). On top of that, 'regional rail between Ann Arbor and Detroit's downtown. 

Related in the media:

Related in Planetizen:

Hat tip to Jacob Lee via Streetsblog.
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Published on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 in Ann Arbor News
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