Connecting the County
House Bill 5309, introduced in January with the support of Governor Snyder, is a collection of seventeen pieces of transportation legislation that could create an array of different ways to pay for regional transit. While the proposal to give transit authorities the power to raise funds through vehicle registration fees could provide new funding options, another change, creating multicounty transportation authorities, could also drain funding the AATA has always relied upon.
"Right now, federal funding goes directly to the AATA," says Berriz. "If a new entity is created, basically, that money would go to the regional entity and then it could come back to the AATA. The question becomes would the new entity reduce, take from, or eliminate the federal funding [that now comes to the AATA]."
The bills may have the support of Governor Snyder, but as Briere points out, it's an election year. Depending upon the priorities and temperament of representatives looking at the politics of their own districts, the pace of a particular bill could be greatly accelerated-or even halted. In any case, city council will get another chance to debate the issue before the final funding decision is made. Once the 196 board's articles of incorporation are written and approved, all municipalities in the county will have thirty days to opt out. A few out-county townships have already declared their intention to do so.