Council Delays Ypsi Twp.’s AAATA Membership

Membership of Ypsilanti Township in the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority has been postponed in action taken by the Ann Arbor city council at its Oct. 21, 2013 meeting. The council will take up the question again at its second meeting in November – Nov. 18.

Ypsilanti Township is now a member of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, pending consideration by the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti city councils.

Ypsilanti Township hopes to become a member of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. (Solid green indicates the geographic area included by the AAATA.)

The vote to postpone was 8-3 with dissent only from mayor John Hieftje, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Margie Teall (Ward 4). The deliberations on postponement appeared to shift when Sally Petersen (Ward 2) ventured that a future millage would have a better chance of passing if there was a delay now to allow for residents to get their questions answered. Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) appeared to respond to Petersen’s gambit, when he said that he would support postponement, because he wanted to see the item pass with as much support as possible, not just a 6-5 majority.

Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) followed up by saying he wanted to see the resolution pass unanimously when it returns at the council’s second meeting in November. He pledged to attend some of the meetings that the AAATA has scheduled over the next few weeks to explain the importance of adding Ypsilanti Township to the AAATA.

The question on the council’s agenda was to revise the articles of incorporation for the AAATA, so that Ypsilanti Township is admitted as a member of the authority. The change in the articles would also expand the board from nine to 10 members, with the additional member to be appointed by Ypsilanti Township. At its Sept. 26, 2013 meeting, the AAATA board already approved the membership of Ypsilanti Township. That action was contingent on approval by the Ann Arbor city council – which was delayed at the Oct. 21 Ann Arbor city council meeting.

An earlier expansion in membership was given final approval by the AAATA board at its June 20, 2013 meeting. That’s when the city of Ypsilanti was admitted as a member of the AAATA and its board was increased from seven to nine members, one of whom is appointed by the city of Ypsilanti. The name of the authority was also changed at that time to add the word “area” – making it the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. [Amendment 3 of the AAATA articles of incorporation]

The expansion of the AAATA’s geographic footprint to include some jurisdictions geographically close to the city of Ann Arbor – and with whom the AAATA has historically had purchase-of-service agreements (POSAs) – would set the stage for a possible request of voters in the expanded geographic area to approve additional transportation funding to pay for increased service frequencies and times.

The AAATA could place a millage request on the ballot in May 2014, probably at the level of 0.7 mills, to support a 5-year service improvement plan that the AAATA has developed. A schedule of public meetings to introduce that plan runs through mid-November. Those meetings will now apparently include a discussion with constituents about the expansion of the AAATA board to include a seat for Ypsilanti Township.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]