Lately I’ve opined on Oakland County’s proposition for a county-wide mass transit system. Since I am a firm believer in the idea of when you’re on a roll, keep her rolling, I reckon, I will do it one more time.
The county commissionerss did a marvelous job, masterful really, of passing a resolution putting the question on the Nov. 8 ballot. Traditionally, communities in the north – the more rural areas – have declined to participate in any county-wide operation. They have “opted out.” The commission’s actions of getting this on the ballot and the propositions wording was political genius. They were able to get it on the ballot because southern commissioners (basically Democrats) outnumbered the northern commissioners (basically Republican). Two commissioners, one from Orion and one from Clarkston jumped party lines to join their southern counterparts – not that it mattered. The issue would have passed without their support.
Their wording was/is genius because in the past, the commissions gave local communities the ability to opt out of the county-wide system. Not so this time. There is no opt out option. Even if you don’t want that system, if it passes (which it most certainly will based on the numbers of voters in the densely populated south, versus sparsely populated north) your community gets to chip in and pay for it. The commissioners wording was also masterful because they added extra carrots for voters in the south by saying, if this passes and your community was already a part of the mass transit system, the amount you will pay goes down!
Guess what happens “up here?” Costs don’t go down so much. In fact they go way up.
Here’s some information I received last week from Addison Township comparing cost locally for North Oakland Transportation Authority (NOTA), versus the proposed millage: Addison Township’s cost for NOTA was $104,592 in 2021; and $109,020 in 2022. If the proposed county millage passes, Addison Township will be on the hook for $399,462.
If your property in Addison Township has a taxable value of $250,000 (assessed $500,000) you pay about $59 for the NOTA system. The new county system will cost you about $238.
I asked Oxford Township Treasurer Joe Ferrari what the difference will be in his hometown. According to Joe, NOTA costs the township $236,541 + $80,000 from the General Fund for a total cost of $316,511. The county-wide system would cost $971,106 – three times as much as NOTA.
“We’re not ogres up here,” Joe said. “We believe in a transportation system. That’s why we created NOTA and tax ourselves.”
Should the millage pass it will last for for 10-years and is expected to generate $66 million in the first year – $37.9 million to maintain the current bus system, $20.4 million to improve and expand the transit system, $7.8 million for capital improvements with Oakland County getting $800,000 in administrative costs.
Times 10 years . . . wow that’s a lot of money going to something that as of right now, isn’t even designed, engineered or worked out. Y’all get to vote for something that isn’t even invented yet, all based on the government saying, “Trust us.”
Good luck with that folks.
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Last week, I also shared a “positive” story about a Clarkston area resident, Birgie the “You Got This Lady.” Birgie has placed signs around her community telling folks they got this (whatever “this” is). I received a couple of emails from readers on this.
From Ron DeLorme, of Independence Township, “Thanks for the column on Birgie. And thanks to Birgie for placing the positive signs around town. They have boosted my spirits on many occasions. Transit Proposal? No thanks! Users of any service should pay for that service. Stop taxing people for services they will never use!”
And from another Independence resident, “Don, I recently read your column about Birgie and her inspirational signs. I saw one of the signs recently and was intrigued about its intended audience. Now that I know the answer, I would like to offer to donate additional signs if she will accept them. I think it’s a great message that many in the community would enjoy seeing. I’m not looking for any attention or recognition, just an opportunity to let her know I appreciate the signs and would love to donate some more if she would like that. I’m a 19-year Clarkston (Independence Twp) resident and a local business owner. I would really like to do this random act of kindness and I need your help to do it. Thank you in advance for your help in this manner and all of your many years serving this community.”
To you, He Who Shalt Not Be Named, I will keep your info and I am sure Birgie will text me about your offer.
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