Voters divided over public transit millage in Oakland County

Communities would see expanded transit for higher cost

INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP, Mich.Oakland County voters are being asked to vote on a 10-year transit millage which asks 0.95 mills per $1,000 in a home’s taxable value.

The millage is designed to expand bus service throughout the county, and it ends the community’s ability to opt up. It is expected to generate $66 million in the first year.

The breakdown looks like this:

  • $37.9 million to maintain the current bus system
  • $20.4 to improve and expand transit
  • $7.8 to capital improvements, with the county getting $800,000 for administrative costs

The millage has created a geographic divide in Oakland County, pitting the northern and northwestern communities versus the southern tier.

Michigan State Senator Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, held a town hall in Independence Township Monday (Oct. 24) night where multiple elected leaders from those communities spoke against it.

“I’ve heard from virtually every single one of these townships that are not in the southern core of the county,” said Runestad. “All the rest of the areas are in absolute opposition.”

Those communities argue that if they cannot opt up as they did before, their homeowners will be paying more for less benefit; NOTA and WOTA currently service those areas. The north and western Oakland County transit authorities, respectively.

The argument is those communities would see expanded transit for a higher cost and far greater mobility for those who rely on transit in Oakland County altogether.

“Think about our seniors, our handicapped people, and our students that need transportation,” said Robin McGregor of Waterford. “When the price of gas is going up, car insurance and the (cost of) living. How do you get to where you need to be?”

McGregor cites rising gas prices and inflation as why expanding transit is needed. Wayne County and Macomb County have transit millage on the ballot as well; neither is as contentious as the issue in Oakland county.

Read: Transit expansion in Oakland County headed to November ballot

About the Authors:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.