Washtenaw County seeks applicants for representatives on new Regional Transit Authority Board
After the lame-duck Republican-led Michigan legislature passed Senate Bill 909 to create a Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority earlier this month, Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners Chairman Conan Smith is readying to make two appointments to the new governing board.
The new law includes Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties in the new transportation authority, which will be overseen by a 10-member appointed board.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Chairman Smith is now seeking applications from qualified Washtenaw County residents who wish to serve on the board. Smith’s support of the new RTA has been at odds with Ann Arbor city leadership as well as a narrow majority of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners.
Senate Bill 909 enables the new transit authority to implement a bus system on four corridors, including a 47-mile route between downtown Detroit and Ann Arbor’s Blake Transit Center. Stops on that route would include Ypsilanti, Detroit Metro Airport and Dearborn.
The Ann Arbor City Council unanimously passed a resolution Dec. 10 to object Washtenaw County’s inclusion in the new RTA.
The Board of Commissioners had passed a resolution in a 6-4 vote Nov. 7 before the state legislature voted on Senate Bill 909, stating that Washtenaw County should have control of any transportation funding intended for the county and that residents should be able to vote on the county joining.
The concern of the Ann Arbor council is similar to that of some of the members of the county board, in that federal dollars given to both municipalities would first have to pass through the RTA board as a result of the new legislation. For Ann Arbor, that means millions of dollars that help fund the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority would be removed from their immediate control.
The state legislature also has passed Senate Bill 911, which gives the new regional transit authority the power to raise vehicle registration fees in the four-county area to pay for services. Voters would have to approve any funding mechanism for the new authority.
The average cost of passenger vehicle registration in fiscal year 2009-10 was $103. Under Senate Bill 911, registration fees could be raised by a maximum of $1.20 per $1,000 of vehicle value, and could result in $75 million from annual registration revenues that could go to the new RTA. Between $7 and 9 million of that could come from Washtenaw County.
Smith is seeking to name two applicants to the new board, though it appears the city of Ann Arbor and the AATA will continue to lobby to remove Washtenaw County from the new transit authority.
Applicants must be a registered Washtenaw County voter. Washtenaw County employees, elected officials or employees of a public transportation provider are not eligible to be appointed.
Individuals with transportation and land use planning experience, professional transit workers and those with leadership experience will be given preferential consideration.
A cover letter and resume must be submitted by 3 p.m. Friday to Lisa Moutinho, Washtenaw County Management Analyst, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two to four applicants will be selected by an advisory committee for an interview. Those candidates must be available for an interview either in person or via video conference the morning of Dec. 27.
The advisory committee will host a public interview with the the applicants 8 a.m. Dec. 27 in Room A of the Washtenaw County Learning Resource Center at 4135 Washtenaw Ave. in Ann Arbor.
The committee consists of Smith; County Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor; County Commissioner Rolland Sizemore Jr., D-Ypsilanti Township; Ann Arbor Transportation Authority CEO Michael Ford; Principal at Milliken Realty Bill Milliken Jr. and Director of Advocacy and Education at the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living Carolyn Grawi.