Livingston County officials have declined to take up a request to propose a millage to voters that would provide funding to expand local transportation options.

The county's Transit Master Plan was developed with public and stakeholder input to respond to changing transportation needs in the region. Several aspects of the Master Plan have already or are currently being implemented; however there is a push to fully implement the plan. A resolution created by the county’s Transportation Coalition and brought forth by Livingston County Commissioner Gary Childs states that while full implementation of the Master Plan has received “widespread” support, the county’s current budget will not allow adequate funding to do so. That prompted a resolution asking to submit a special millage proposition to voters that would levy .23 mills to provide funding. Childs tells WHMI the resolution and full implementation of the plan is supported by numerous stakeholders within the Transportation Coalition including but not limited to the Howell, Brighton and Hartland chambers of commerce, the Howell DDA, five senior centers or programs, 12 businesses, six municipalities, and five planning groups.

The resolution came before the county's General Government subcommittee Monday and numerous residents attended the meeting. Those speaking in support of the resolution asked that officials simply put the issue before voters and let them decide. Those opposed, including Meghan Reckling, chair of the Livingston County Republican Party, took issue with certain goals established in the Master Plan, associated costs, and the need for further transportation options. Another opponent, attorney Jay Drick, said that the proposal would create an, "unelected citizen's advisory board with full property taxing authority...that's a liberal socialist's dream come true." However, that is believed to be the same situation concerning the county's Veterans Services Committee, which is appointed, not elected, and also has control over a millage that was supported unanimously by commissioners back in 2016.

After a lengthy public comment period, Childs moved the resolution to be put to a vote by committee members. That move was not seconded by fellow committee members, so the resolution died at that stage without discussion or a vote. Speaking of those committee members, which include Commissioners Bob Bezotte, Wes Nakagiri, and William Green, Childs says he’s very disappointed that they didn’t give it a chance to even be considered by the full Board of Commissioners.

Childs says he believes that if the .23 mills were implemented, the county could still claim to have the lowest taxes in the state. "If they believe it’s such a bad idea, it would fail at a vote. They’re fearful that it is a good idea and they’re fearful for their jobs. End of discussion." (DK/JK)