DDA Might Increase Support for Transit

In the context of an approaching May 6, 2014 transit millage ballot question, the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority has approved a resolution that pledges to work toward increasing the DDA’s support for transportation programs.

The 0.7 mill tax was placed on a May 6 ballot by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board on Feb. 20, 2014. The tax would be levied by the AAATA only if it wins a majority of support among voters across its three member jurisdictions: the city of Ann Arbor, the city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township.

The DDA board resolution comes in part as a response to the fact that the DDA will be capturing a portion of the new millage under its tax increment finance (TIF) funding mechanism. The ballot language itself highlights DDA tax capture among other TIF authority capture:


To improve public bus, van, and paratransit services – including expanded service hours, routes, destinations, and services for seniors and people who have disabilities – shall the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority levy a new annual tax of 0.7 mills ($0.70 per $1000 of taxable value) on all taxable property within the City of Ann Arbor, the City of Ypsilanti, and the Charter Township of Ypsilanti for the years 2014-2018 inclusive? The estimate of revenue if this millage is approved is $4,368,847.00 for 2014. This revenue will be disbursed to the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority and, as required by law, a portion may be subject to capture by the downtown development authorities of the Cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, the Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, and the local development finance authority of the Charter Township of Ypsilanti.

The city of Ann Arbor’s financial staff are currently projecting the DDA’s TIF revenue for fiscal year 2015 to be about $4.8 million. Given the roughly 28 mills of tax on which the DDA captures taxes, that works out to a 0.7 mill equivalent of $120,000 (4,800,000/28)*0.7=120,000]. That’s consistent with the AAATA’s estimates of about $119,000 that would be captured from the 0.7 mill transit tax by the Ann Arbor DDA.

The DDA board’s resolution approved on March 5, 2014 included a single resolved clause, which was amended at the meeting to add the phrase “maintain or”:

Resolved, If the voters support approval of a new five-year transit millage, the DDA, which has been a long-time supporter of transit as a key strategy to meet its mission, will work to maintain or increase its support for transportation-related programs and projects.

The TIF revenue estimate of $4.8 million was part of a draft FY 2015 budget reviewed by the DDA operations committee at its Feb. 26 meeting and approved for submission to the city of Ann Arbor by the full board at its March 5 meeting.

That budget includes enough to cover a transportation funding request for the AAATA’s getDowntown program, which the board will consider at its April meeting. The bulk of DDA’s getDowntown funding supports the go!pass, a program in which downtown employers can participate to allow employees to take unlimited bus rides at no cost to the employee. Employers pay $10 per employee per year for the passes. An “all-in” clause requires employers to purchase go!passes for all employees.

The fares for rides taken with a go!pass are covered in smaller part by the employer payment and in larger part by an annual grant from the DDA. The total grant request this year reflects an 11% increase from last year:

                         FY 2014    FY 2015
getDowntown             $ 40,488   $ 43,000
go!pass                 $479,000   $529,000
Transportation Options  $ 91,174   $105,264
TOTAL                   $610,662   $677,264


The board is expected to vote on the go!pass request at its April board meeting.

This brief was filed from the DDA boardroom at the DDA offices, located at 150 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 301. A more detailed report will follow: [link]