Ann Arbor Council: Special Meeting on RTA

The city of Ann Arbor has announced a special meeting of the city council scheduled for Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 at 4 p.m., in the jury room on the fourth floor of the Justice Center at 301 E. Huron. [.pdf of special meeting announcement] Update: On the morning of Dec. 10, the city announced that the meeting location has been changed to the second-floor council chambers at city hall, next to the Justice Center.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss a city position on state legislation regarding a regional transit authority (RTA), which has been passed by the state legislature – with the house of representatives giving it approval on Dec. 6, 2012. [.pdf of SB 909] The legislation was opposed by District 53 state Rep. Jeff Irwin, who represents most of the city of Ann Arbor. The legislation includes Washtenaw County in a four-county regional transit authority in southeast Michigan – which includes the city of Detroit and the counties of Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb.

Conan Smith, chair of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, has been an advocate for that effort, both as chair of the county board and in his role as executive director of the nonprofit Michigan Suburbs Alliance. Following the custom of the county board, starting next year he would rotate off the position of chair of the board, which is elected by other commissioners. That’s important because according to the RTA legislation, the chair of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners would make the county’s two appointments to the 9-member RTA board. A likely successor to Smith as board chair is Yousef Rabhi, who has also supported the RTA – voting against the Washtenaw County board’s Nov. 7, 2012 decision to rescind its previous support for the RTA.

The governance of the RTA board is structured so that any vote to place a tax assessment or vehicle registration fee on the ballot for residents of the four-county region – in order to fund transportation services by the new RTA – could be vetoed by the representative from Detroit, or by a dissenting vote from both representatives of a single county.

The house of representatives has not yet passed some parts of the RTA package that would enable certain kinds of  funding of the authority.

The Ann Arbor city council already had a budget planning session scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on Dec. 10.