For Release on:
October 25, 2016

Contact: Eric Lupher

Research Council Releases Analysis of Regional Transit Authority Millage Request

The question of increasing property taxes for enhanced transit services is one of the more significant questions appearing on the ballot in four Southeast Michigan counties. To help voters understand the question before them, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan has published an analysis of the question that explains the tax, describes the relatively new Regional Transit Authority (RTA), describes how revenues from the tax would supplement existing locally-raised revenues, and explores the potential impact on metropolitan Detroit.

“The Citizens Research Council does not take a position on the millage question,” explains Research Council President Eric Lupher. “As has been our tradition since the 1920s, we have looked at the issues surrounding this question so that citizens, cast in the role of policymakers, can make informed decisions on the question before them.”

The RTA was formed in 2012 under the authority of Public Act 387 to facilitate cooperation through a Regional Master Plan among the major mass transportation providers of Southeast Michigan: The Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT), Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (AAATA), Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transit (SMART), and Detroit Transportation Corporation (People Mover).

The RTA millage would levy a 1.2 mill property tax on all properties in Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties for 20 years. Rather than replacing the operating budgets of existing transportation authorities, RTA tax revenues will be used to supplement and coordinate existing spending, increase service provision, and engage in significant capital improvements to create a cross-county system of rapid transit. Elements of this system include bus rapid transit, regional rail connecting Ann Arbor to Detroit, corridor prioritization, cross-county connectors, transportation to and from the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, updates to paratransit services, and improved local transportation.

“While there are elements to the proposed use of the funding we can consider positive to the region,” said Lupher, “it must be recognized that the use of a property tax as the funding mechanism increases an already high property tax burden relative to the rest of the state and many other metropolitan regions in the nation.”

The full report is available at no cost on the Citizens Research Council’s website,

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