Patterson's generous proposal for regional transit

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has placed a regional transit proposal on the table which, if approved by voters, would raise $1.2 billion over 20 years from Oakland County taxpayers. Detroit, Wayne County, and Washtenaw County rejected that proposal.  The County Executive's proposal calls for taxing only the 24 communities that have opted in to the Act 196 taxing authority supporting SMART bus.

Oakland's $1.2 billion offer follows the model used in other regions such as Denver, Portland and Seattle which employ special assessment districts for transit. They vote on the plan only in those areas that will receive services relatively commensurate with their tax payments.

Oakland's offer honors the election results for the regional transit plan rejected by Oakland County voters and voters throughout the rest of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) region in November of 2016. Aprecinct-level map of those voting results tells the complete story. Most of the "yes" votes were concentrated in communities in southeast Oakland County which have opted in to the Oakland County Transportation Authority and that would have received services from the RTA.

Voters in 38 Oakland County Communities that have historically opted-out of the Act 196 taxing authority voted "no." In fact, one Act 196 opt-in community, Troy, Oakland County's largest city, also voted "no."
Oakland County believes by focusing the voting and taxation efforts in those Oakland County communities that have consistently voted to tax themselves to support transit and that actually receive meaningful transit services as a result makes sense. It would make an RTA ballot measure more likely to pass next time around as well. 
It is worth noting that Macomb County stands with us on a reduced taxing footprint.

Connect Southeast Michigan Proposal

March 2018: Connect Southeast Michigan Proposal

The Regional Transit Authority (RTA)'s Proposal

Map: HNTB Proposed Map of 1.5 Mil Regional Transit Taxing Footprint

The map above shows the proposed taxing footprint for the Regional Transit Authority from Kresge Foundation-funded consultants HNTB. County Executive Patterson objects to including nine Oakland County communities that have opted out of the SMART bus Act 196 Taxing Authority for 21 years and voted against the 2016 RTA plan. Detroit-Wayne-Washtenaw want to tax all Oakland County communities to pay for transit.

Map: 2016 RTA Millage Results

Wayne-Washtenaw-Detroit want to tax everyone for regional transit. That's the approach that lost in the 2016 election. Patterson's plan acknowledges this reality. Oakland County voters were among those who rejected the RTA ballot question in 2016. A precinct-level map of the voting tells a complete story. Most of the "yes" votes for the RTA were concentrated in southeast Oakland County which coincides with the location of the SMART Act 196 taxing authority opt-in communities. The ballot measure was handily defeated in 38 Act 196 taxing authority opt-out communities and in one major Act 196 taxing authority opt-in community - Troy. By focusing on the communities that voted in 2016 to tax themselves for transit, and those that have voted for the last 21 years to do the same, Patterson's proposal increases the likelihood of an RTA ballot question passing this time around while honoring the vote of those who were opposed.