Communities in the lakes area and across Oakland County will have the opportunity to put before their respective electorates with a familiar funding proposal for Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) bus services during the Aug. 7 primary election.
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners approved on Wednesday, April 18 a resolution granting the communities the authority to put a 0.59-mill, two-year millage collection on the primary election ballot. The millage would be levied next year and in 2013.
According to Farmington Hills City Manager Steve Brock, who is also chairman of the Oakland County Public Transportation Authority, communities “opting in” to the SMART millage vote by placing the millage question on the ballot would receive bus service if a majority of voters in all communities voting on the proposal — regardless of whether a majority of their voters approve the millage — endorse the collection, which is expected to generate about $16 million annually.
SMART Spokeswoman Beth Gibbons said the 0.59-mill levy is a renewal that would fund general operations for the transit system that has operated in as many as 23 Oakland County communities over the last 17 years, including the city of Walled Lake and West Bloomfield Township, both of which have SMART millages currently levied that are set to expire at the end of the calendar year.
Last approved by voters in the Aug. 3, 2010 primary election, the levy received overwhelming support from the electorate, with 78 percent (97,850) of voters in the communities that “opted in” supporting it, while just shy of 22 percent (27,443 voters) cast “no” votes.
Services are generally widely available in a concentrated area in the southeast portion of the county, but they are also available west of Telegraph Road in communities like West Bloomfield and Walled Lake, as well as Farmington and Farmington Hills, among others.
The agency — which is governed by a board of directors made up of representatives from Oakland, Wayne, Macomb and Monroe counties that selects a general manager to oversee day-to-day operations — boasts that it provides access through its transportation services to more than 59,000 businesses and 850,000 jobs.
A mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value, which is generally equal to half the property’s market value. The owner of a property with a taxable value of $100,000 ($200,000 market value) would pay $59 in the first year of the levy.