BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
The proposed Regional Transit Authority state legislation is stalled in committee, which is fine with Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle.
“I’m happy to announce that at 4:30 p.m., I received notice that House Bill 5550 has stalled. It is off the floor,” Kittle said at the March 3 Township Board meeting. “I don’t think it was killed. I don’t think it’s going to ever die. I think it just crawled into a hole and it’s waiting to raise its ugly head again. We will continue to be diligent and watchful to make sure that when this thing does come back, and it will come back, that we will continue to fight the good fight for the community.”
House Bill 5550 includes a proposed millage for a regional transit authority millage on Oakland County residents.
“Without language for the majority of Oakland County municipalities to opt out, up to three mills would have been assessed against township residents with no discernable plan or benefit identified,” Kittle said. “Based upon our current understanding, a bus service through Pontiac would be the most likely benefit to Independence residents. In return, our residents would be required to pay up to three mills, which is three times the entire general operating millage of the township and equal to our entire funding of police services.”
Kittle, along with township Clerk Cari Neubeck and Treasurer Rachel Loughlin, went to Lansing on Feb. 27 for a state Government Operations Committee hearing on House Bill 5550.
“We voiced our concerns on how this was going to be bad for the community and how it’s going to be bad for our residents and again, that put them on notice that we take offense with anyone trying to push a millage proposal down our throats without any kind of a plan or resident input,” Kittle said.
He also went to a press conference in Waterford on March 3 with other local supervisors and officials to publicly oppose the proposal.
“The team was not happy with our county executive (Dave Coulter) and the special interest group trying to push us around and pick our pockets,” he said. “So it was a good day for the community. The impact for us was very limited, and it was very confined in terms of who was going to benefit from this.”
Kittle also thanked township Trustee Theresa Nallamothu for “getting out there and slugging it out” and state Rep. Andrea Schroeder for “working tirelessly on our behalf.”
“Between us and all the different township supervisors, everybody in these communities basically just started calling every state representative across the whole state, not just in Oakland County. They felt the heat, and I think they realized they screwed up,” Kittle said. “There is enough big money and enough of these multinational companies who would be the big recipients of some sort of a transit initiative. We need to let our state legislators know that, whether it’s 5229 or 5550 or whatever harebrained idea they come up with to try to extract money out of us, until a plan is presented that can be thoroughly analyzed as far as how it will benefit all of the residents, we’ll continue to push back.”