Warren Evans pitches new regional transportation tax plan

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Warren Evans went before the Regional Transit Authority Thursday touting a proposed $1.5 million property tax levy for public transit.

The Wayne County executive's plan would raise $5.4 billion over 20 years. The last time regional transit was on the ballot it was voted down in 2016. 

Evans is hopeful that a year's worth of work between all the counties will pay off. The goal? To get this on the ballot for November. 

"From a moral point of view, in terms of the ability of people who don't have a lot of resources who can't afford cars they need to be able to get to the doctor and other places," he said. "But the economics is a huge issue at all we are saying is look at the plan."

The Regional Transit Authority Board holding this meeting Thursday. Evans, making the case for a regional transit plan.  Transportation Riders United, an advocacy group, is listening carefully.  

FOX 2: "What is It about regional transit that may people here in metro Detroit just don't get?

"Regional transit may not be something that all of use but something that we all need," said Megan Owens of Transportation Riders United. "Every one of us is dependent on someone who is dependent on transit. Transit helps our entire community work better."

Amazon kicked Detroit out of the running for a second headquarters, in part because of the lack of connectivity in the metro area.  What southeast Michigan spends in transit dollars would go up to pay for buses that connect Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties with Detroit.  

Here's how much: "The average house in the region is valued at $157,000," Evans said. "So on average it would be $10 which would be $120 a year, obviously some people would pay more some people would pay a little less."

Part of the plan would create a commuter rail between Detroit and Ann Arbor - increased routes, and better frequency all in the $5.4 billion dollar, 20-year plan.  
There has been skepticism about the dollars being spent on regional transit between Oakland and Macomb counties.

"The state legislature actually created a Regional Transit Authority and they are the ones who have the authority to place a transit funding measure on the ballot," said Owens.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says residents in his county already voted no on the measure in 2016. He says that plan forces residents to pay 40 percent of the tab but get far less than 40 percent of the services in return.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel told FOX 2 that roads are the number one priority for taxpayers in his county. He said residents are already paying into the SMART bus system and this plan is not different than the one in 2016.

WEB EXTRA: Evans released a follow up statement rebuttal to Patterson: 

"Executive Evans presented a comprehensive transit plan with enough time to bring it to the public so they can vote in November, should the RTA move forward with it. This full-four county plan offers a way forward with many compromises. If Mr. Patterson has something that can do the same, he should present it to the RTA board in detail. There's no pride of ownership here, if Oakland County has a viable transit plan ready, let's put it out there. We need more transit in the worst way."