The unincorporated version of a possible future Act 196 countywide authority in Washtenaw County met for the first time on Oct. 20, 2011. Act 196 of 1986 is a state enabling statute that explicitly provides for the formation of a transit authority at the county level. The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority is formed under Act 55 of 1963.
The meeting comes in the context of the culmination of the AATA’s transportation master planning effort and the review of various financing options now taking place by a group of more than 20 financial experts from the private and public sectors. The financial group is led by former Washtenaw County administrator Bob Guenzel and McKinley Inc. CEO Albert Berriz.
Membership in the 11-member unincorporated board (U196) is as follows: Pittsfield District – Mandy Grewal (supervisor, Pittsfield Township); Northeast District – David Phillips (clerk, Superior Township); North Middle District – David Read (trustee, Scio Township) with alternate Jim Carson (councilmember, Village of Dexter); Southeast District – (1) Karen Lovejoy Roe (clerk, Ypsilanti Township) and (2) John McGehee (director of human resources, Lincoln Consolidated Schools); West District – Bob Mester (trustee, Lyndon Township) with alternate Ann Feeney (councilmember, city of Chelsea); Ypsilanti District – Paul Schreiber (mayor of Ypsilanti) with alternate: Peter Murdock (councilmember, city of Ypsilanti); South Middle District – Bill Lavery (resident, York Township); Ann Arbor District: (1) Jesse Bernstein (AATA board), (2) Charles Griffith (AATA board) and (3) Rich Robben (AATA board).
The eventual governance of an Act 196 organization has been proposed to be 15 members, with the same distribution geographically as the U196 board except for Ann Arbor’s membership, which has been proposed to be seven members. For now, the membership of AATA board members on the U196 board has been limited to three – less than a quorum of board members – in order to avoid the perception that any action that might be taken by the U196 board was an action of the AATA board. At the Oct. 20 meeting, AATA board chair Jesse Bernstein stressed that the U196 board meetings would be open to the public and that its work would be done in public.
The Oct. 20 initial meeting was mostly a meet-and-greet and included a tour of the AATA headquarters on South Industrial. The U196 members who were present agreed that they would try to meet in November and December, and that the location of those meetings would be the AATA headquarters. They also agreed that Bernstein would chair their initial meetings, which will focus on developing bylaws for the organization, setting a committee structure, receiving presentations on service options, and receiving updates from district advisory committee meetings. Each district will convene meetings of advisory committees to focus on implementating service options that district.
The day and time of the November and December meetings will be set after surveying board member availability.