Legislation offers flexibility for public service millages
State Rep. Jason Sheppard, of Temperance, today joined leaders from Wayne, Washtenaw and Oakland counties for a news conference discussing renewed interest and options for expanded regional transit in the greater Detroit area.
“We had a great discussion about ways to expand infrastructure and the ability for people to get around in southeast Michigan – things that are critical to the success of our region,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard’s newly introduced legislation, House Bill 5229, complements local efforts to improve transportation options by giving communities and counties more versatility when it comes to their millages.
Under current law, local governments can enter into joint contracts with one another or a public agency for providing or creating services. These joint endeavors can lead to proposed millages with a majority vote deciding whether taxpayers will assist in paying for the services, but the number of millages must be under a constitutional limit.
HB 5229 clarifies that these joint plans would not count toward that limit and would open the door to additional partnerships – such as counties working with townships – for shared services.
“This plan protects the will of the voters while making sure these types of millages won’t be impacted by an arbitrary cap. If voters don’t want it, they’ll say they don’t want it,” Sheppard said, noting the bill could be used for a variety of services besides transit if a partnership chooses. “It’s all about flexibility for our locals. If we give them the ability, they’re going to be in a better position and more likely to pursue these types of projects in the future to provide people with needed services.”
Regional public transportation plans have been discussed before in southeast Michigan. In 2016, voters in Wayne and Washtenaw counties approved a tax to create rapid transit lines and modern rail service while Oakland and Macomb counties opposed it.
HB 5229 was referred to the House Transportation Committee upon introduction and remains under consideration.