Southfield Michigan

Southfield is a northern suburb of Metro Detroit.

(The Center Square) – Oakland County voters will decide Nov. 8 whether to approve a ballot proposal for a 10-year mass-transit millage.

The proposed millage would raise $66.1 million in the first year. County Commissioners approved the proposal Wednesday night on a 13-7 vote.

If approved by voters, the .95 millage would equate to .95 cents of tax per $1,000 of the taxable home value.

The millage summary explains the spending breakdown for the $66 million:

  • $37.9 million to maintain the current service.
  • $20.4 million to improve and expand transit service across Oakland County.
  • $7 million for capital improvements.
  • $.8 million for county administration.

The $37.9 million would replace three existing public transit millages in Oakland County. About $33.3 million would fund the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation service, $2 million would fund the West Oakland Transportation Authority, $1.6 million would fund the North Oakland Transportation Authority, and the Older Persons Commission would receive $1 million.

The $20.4 million would be spent as follows.

  • $12 million for new routes to high-demand areas.
  • $3.5 million for new microtransit areas.
  • $3.2 million for new paratransit coverage.
  • $1.7 million for service improvements on existing routes.

A SMART annual financial report says it received $120 million from the federal government to stay afloat during COVID, including $55 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, $18.6 million from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, and $47.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act money.

SMART doesn’t include ridership on its annual reports and hasn’t responded to an inquiry to provide ridership numbers from 2019 to 2022, during which much public transit nationwide suffered steep ridership declines. 

From July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021, SMART collected $2.7 million in revenue, including passenger fares and advertising. 

For comparison, between Oct. 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020, SMART collected nearly $6 million in revenue.  

Commissioner David Coulter tweeted: “I fully support the transit proposal approved in a bipartisan vote by the Oak Co Bd of Commissioners and look forward to talking to residents and urging its passage in the coming weeks. This is an opportunity to begin solving an issue that has held our region back for decades.”

Originally published on thecentersquare.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

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