DETROIT (WWJ) – An ambitious regional public transit plan introduced by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans seeks to raise taxes on metro Detroit residents.
Evans on Thursday asked the Regional Transit Authority for feedback on the new plan and to consider putting it before voters on the November ballot.
The plan includes increased routes on major cross-county roads, premium routes on five roads including Michigan Avenue, Grand River, Gratiot and Woodward, more express connections to the airport and eight daily train trips between Detroit and Ann Arbor.
The “Connect Southeast Michigan “proposal calls for a 1.5 mill tax increase in Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, and Macomb Counties in hopes of raising $5.4 billion over 20 years.
Evans said a family with a home worth about $150,000 would see a tax increase of $118 a year.
“This plan is designed to serve riders where they are and where they need to go on a daily basis,” Evans said. “It will expand economic opportunities for countless local residents who struggle to get to work, school, or even the doctor’s office. It will also take cars off the road, which will ease congestion, reduce emissions and increase productivity. It brings value to all four counties and is flexible enough to grow with mobility technology so we can adapt it moving forward.”
Evans noted that, on a national level, there’s no debate about the need for mass transit.
“We are letting some of our federal tax dollars go to pave a road somewhere else or fund transit somewhere else in the country because we don’t have a regional plan. It just doesn’t make sense,” said Evans. “We need this plan just to get in line for the federal and state tax dollars needed for large transit projects that can greatly enhance mobility throughout the region.”
Just a short time after Evans’ announcement, Oakland County made it clear that is isn’t on-board.
A statement from Executive Brooks Patterson’s office said what he called “this latest regional transit tax scheme” is nothing more than the plan voters rejected in November 2016.
It’s a pie-in-the-sky proposal that allows the RTA to reach deep into the pockets of Oakland County taxpayers who will pay 40% of the regional transit tab but receive far less than 40% of the regional transit services in return,” the statement continues.
The Detroit Regional Chamber, meanwhile, called the proposal is an amicable, more robust solution to move our region forward and attract the jobs and talent needed to compete globally.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, also, says he “enthusiastically” supports it, and that residents of all four counties deserve an opportunity to vote on it this fall.
“I applaud County Executive Evans for his efforts to develop a plan that will allow our citizens to connect with jobs and our region to compete for more,” the mayor added.