Group forms in opposition to Metro Detroit transit plan

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

An anti-tax group aiming to derail the Regional Transit Authority’s millage to bolster mass transportation in Metro Detroit has voiced its opposition with a website.

The campaign NoMassive was made official this week, urging of voters to reject the $4.6 billion, 20-year regional transportation initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Organizers contend on the website the tax hike is “massive.”

“This tax hike proposal is vastly more expensive than any other regional tax in Metro Detroit history and will cost the average homeowner thousands of dollars,” said Leon Drolet, treasurer of the group.

“But it isn’t just the expense to citizens that is bad, the mass transit proposal also would close lanes on some major roads to cars by creating ‘bus only’ lanes that will make commuting far worse for car owners.”

In a statement released this week, organizers say is a coalition that includes the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance and the Wayne County Taxpayers Association.

Advocates of the millage say the group has their facts wrong.

“It’s not unusual to see an opposition effort attempted, and this one is like many others we’ve seen: full of misguided half-truths led by a group so deeply entrenched in anti-tax rhetoric they choose to ignore the deep needs of the very community they claim to serve,” said Kelly Rossman-McKinney, spokeswoman for Citizens for Connecting our Communities, a group working to advocate for the ballot initiative.

“Citizens for Connecting our Communities is confident the voters of southeast Michigan will vote yes to connect Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties to help people get to and from work, to help seniors and people with disabilities live more independently and to boost economic development,” she said.

The $4.6-billion-dollar proposal, if approved by voters, would bring bus rapid transit, a rail line between Ann Arbor and Detroit, an airport shuttle service, a regional fare card system and other service changes.

The 20-year millage would cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $120 annually, RTA officials estimate.

But the anti-millage group said the millage spends money on “old tech” such as buses.

“Voters need to know that we could lease a new Chevrolet Trax SUV every two years for every mass transit user in Metro Detroit using the money already spent on mass transit — and have $150 million left over,” said Simon Haddad, vice chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance.