A taxpayer group is seeking a recount of the Macomb County bus system millage that voters narrowly approved this month, citing its narrow win.

“Thirty-nine votes out of 155,000 is statistically a tied election,” said Leon Drolet, a Macomb County commissioner and chair of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, in a statement Tuesday. “Over $110 million taxpayer dollars that will be taken from citizens and given to SMART are at stake, as is the principle of election integrity. Voters have a right to expect extreme scrutiny when an election is this close.”

In a statement Tuesday, John C. Hertel, general manager of SMART, or Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, said: “We are not surprised by the recount effort, given the negative attitude of the opposition towards the needs of the public. Yet, we still have faith in the integrity of the electoral system in Macomb County.”

The county Board of Canvassers certified the Aug. 7 election results, with all 338 precincts reporting showing the SMART millage passed by 77,500 to 77,461. On election night, the margin was 23 votes.

The Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, which opposed the measure, quickly filed for a recount of 398 precincts in Macomb, “almost all of which are absentee ballot boards,” the group said Tuesday.

The fee the alliance paid for the recount was $9,950, or $25 per precinct.

“Because absentee ballots have a higher possibility of human error when being processed than election day ballots, we are prioritizing recounting those ballots,” said alliance vice chair Simon Haddad, a Clinton Township resident who petitioned the recount. 

The Macomb County Clerk is expected to determine when and where the recount will take place. Drolet said he believed it could take three weeks.

The county Clerk’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Voters in Macomb as well as communities in Oakland and Wayne counties decided Aug. 7 to renew the millage to fund SMART through 2021. The measure also slightly increases the millage in Macomb and Oakland counties to 1 mill, which Wayne County residents already pay.

According to the millage proposal, a resident with a home valued at $200,000 will pay $100 per year under the tax. In Macomb County, where residents had paid 0.9926 mills, that means an annual increase of 78 cents.

SMART is southeast Michigan's only regional public transportation provider. For $106.9 million annually, it provides nearly 10 million rides.

For the first year, the millage is expected to generate about $71 million. Robert Cramer, SMART deputy general manager, has said the money would contribute to the service's operations.

Macomb County's millage contributes more than a third, about 37 percent, of what SMART receives from all three counties, according to SMART ad the Macomb County Treasurer's Office.

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