Washtenaw County Transit: More Outs than Ins
An impressive number of impressive people have been working since 2008 to create a county-wide transit system for Washtenaw County. We’ve been following this process for nearly as long. (See the Transportation Page for a list of posts.) Now it appears that the process is almost complete. Articles of Incorporation for the Washtenaw Ride were filed on October 3, 2012. This was supposed to launch a 30-day period in which units of government could choose to opt out of the new authority’s district. They could simply wait the time out if they did not wish to decline. The process got a lot more confused suddenly, as the Ann Arbor Chronicle has admirably detailed. (See County Likely to Send Out Transit Notice and Positions Open: New Transit Authority Board .) As those articles explain, the 30-day window has been stretched somewhat. But most Washtenaw County political units didn’t wait till the deadline. They have moved with alacrity to opt out of the new authority.
The map to the right shows that almost all townships in the county have opted out. Note that the City of Ann Arbor and City of Ypsilanti are presumed to have opted to stay in, since they are signatories to the 4-party agreement. (Technically, they could still choose to opt out.) The City of Saline and Ypsilanti Township have passed measures explicitly stating that they wish to remain in the authority. The City of Chelsea and Pittsfield Township are shown as “pending” because they have resolutions on a future agenda to opt out. The sources for this information vary from news reports to reports from persons who attended meetings to minutes and agendas from relevant units.
The status of several townships is still not known. Agendas and minutes for Lyndon, Freedom, Lodi and Scio Township have been difficult to track down, and there have been no news reports. It seems extremely unlikely that Freedom, Lodi, and Lyndon townships will participate, since these rural townships would not benefit directly from most transit programs. Status of Manchester Village and Dexter Village is also to be determined. Milan’s city council expressed interest in a “whole city” participation (including the Monroe County portion of the city) back in July 2012, but also reserved the possibility that they might opt out.
The loss of Pittsfield Township must be felt severely by the proponents of a larger authority. Pittsfield had the highest taxable valuation in the county, after the City of Ann Arbor, in 2011. The next highest was Scio Township. Scio’s status will be of intense interest in evaluating the possible success of this venture.
This post will be updated. See our post from January 2012, How Much County in Washtenaw County-wide Transit, for an earlier speculation and discussion of participation.
UPDATE: Calls to township and village clerks indicate that Lyndon, Lima, and Freedom Townships have also opted out. (A list is also provided today in a comment on the Chronicle’s coverage of the October 18 AATA board meeting.) Manchester Village has also opted out, per the village clerk. Scio Township and the Village of Dexter have the matter on agendas for this week, with no indication of which direction the decision is going.
SECOND UPDATE: Benjamin Swayze, the City Administrator of Milan, said that the matter is coming before the Milan City Council on October 29.
THIRD UPDATE: Ypsilanti Township voted tonight (Oct. 22) to opt in. We had already shown their participation based on their packet resolution.
FOURTH UPDATE: Scio Township voted tonight (Oct. 23) to opt out. They left Dexter Village to decide its own fate.
FIFTH UPDATE: According to the Dexter Patch, the Village of Dexter trustees postponed their decision as to whether to join the authority on October 22. The report indicates that trustees wish to see whether Scio and Pittsfield Townships withdraw, since their high taxable valuation is needed to keep the cost to taxpayers across the authority near the estimated 0.58 mills.
SIXTH UPDATE: According to their City Clerk, the Chelsea City Council voted on October 23 to opt out of the transit authority.
SEVENTH UPDATE: According to the Ann Arbor Chronicle, Pittsfield Township voted tonight (October 24) to opt out of the county transit authority.
EIGHTH UPDATE: The City of Milan voted to opt out on October 29, as reported by the commenter below. According to the Dexter Leader, the Dexter Village Council voted on the 29th to postpone the decision until November.
NINTH UPDATE: In light of the City of Ann Arbor pulling out on November 8, (Ann Arbor Chronicle account) Dexter Village is regrouping, and voted on November 12 to purchase more service from WAVE. According to the Dexter Leader, they also have meetings scheduled with AATA officials.
TENTH UPDATE: The Saline City Council voted unanimously on November 19 to rescind their earlier affirmative opt-in, and to withdraw from the Washtenaw Ride. Dexter Village voted to opt out on November 26, as did Ypsilanti Township.
NOTE: Ongoing coverage of this subject has now been provided in a more recent post, Regional Transit in Ann Arbor and Beyond: A Matter of Governance II.
All posts on this subject can be found on the Transportation Page.Explore posts in the same categories: civic finance, Transportation