Memorandum 1143, October 2016
On November 8, voters in Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Macomb Counties will vote on a proposal that would empower the recently created Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) to levy a new 1.2 mill tax (one mill is equal to a dollar of tax for every $1,000 of taxable value) that would generate $3.16 billion over the course of 20 years. Unlike past regional millage requests, this question does not rely on approval from each county individually. The four-county region will vote on this millage request as a single entity. For the first year (2017), the tax would generate $161 million. Chart 1 shows the tax contribution breakdown by county based on current year taxable values.
It is expected that the $3.16 billion that would be generated from this tax over 20 years would be used to leverage an additional $1.6 billion of funding from state and federal funds for capital projects. The $4.7 million would be used to support a Master Plan for regional transportation projects in Southeast Michigan.
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 currently facilitates state and federal funding to transportation providers, but, absent this millage request, does not have a permanent, ongoing source of income or the authority to levy other types of taxes.
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. The Detroit M-1 Q-Line would also be absorbed into the RTA in 2024.