Countywide transit authority creation delayed with amendment by Washtenaw County commissioners
After two months of debating changes to the articles of incorporation for a new county-wide transit authority, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners approved its end of a four-party agreement Wednesday night - but tacked on a last-minute amendment that will further delay the creation of an authority.
In a narrow 6-4 vote, commissioners approved the four-party agreement that included a new amendment to the articles of incorporation to call for a four-fifths majority of the new transit authority board to approve changes to their articles, instead of a two-thirds majority as originally written.
Though the vote to add the amendment was unanimous, Commissioners Alicia Ping, Wesley Prater, Dan Smith and Rob Turner voted against the resolution for the four-party agreement. Commissioner Rolland Sizemore Jr. was absent.
The vote means the agreement will now have to go back to the other parties involved - the Ann Arbor Transit Authority’s Board of Directors and the city councils of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti - to approve as amended.
“I’m not in support of the resolution, but I feel this will pass anyways,” Ping said earlier in the meeting.
Lisa Allmendinger | AnnArbor.com
The county board was the last of the four parties in the agreement to vote on the measure after it won the approval of the other members.
Commissioners spent hours debating amendments to the articles of incorporation - most of which were proposed by Commissioner Smith - but in the end had decided against using any of them in the spirit of moving the four-party agreement to a total consensus so AATA could move forward quickly with filing the articles of incorporation to create the new entity.
“I have no problems with the role of public transit. We have a largely ministerial role in this process, in adopting the articles of incorporation,” Smith said. “I am not satisfied with the articles of incorporation as they stand for the previous reasons I discussed.”
“Local governments without much representation in the authority could have the structure of the authority change without their voice,” Turner said, expressing his concern for the more remote areas of the county he represents.
Commissioner Leah Gunn immediately responded to his proposed amendment.
“Asking a board of directors to have to be unanimous would be unfair,” Gunn said.
Gunn suggested an amendment to Turner’s proposed amendment, that would change the requirement to a four-fifths majority of the board - a move that later won the full approval of the rest of the commissioners.
“I keep hearing from Gunn about how much Ann Arbor is sacrificing for this, and it just sounds like an Ann Arbor authority that’s allowing the outside areas to come in,” Turner said. “That bothers me, it’s not going to be a county authority. I’m going to have to vote no on this, and that breaks my heart.”