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SMART millage vote likely headed for recount in Macomb County

A SMART bus.

A recount looks likely for a bus service millage renewal that just barely passed in Macomb County this week.

Voters in Wayne and Oakland counties overwhelmingly approved the millageto continue SMART bus service in metro Detroit. But according to unofficial election results, Macomb County voters approved it by just 23 votes.

Leon Drolet is head of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance. He opposes spending taxpayer dollars on mass transit, and ran an ad campaign opposing the millage.

Drolet says no one can petition for a recount until the county board of canvassers certifies Tuesday’s election results. And with a vote that close, the board of canvassers could flip the outcome on its own.

“And I expect that whichever side ends up on the losing side of that will very likely request a recount,” Drolet said.

The board of canvassers must meet within two weeks of last Tuesday’s primary election.

SMART says the one-mil tax levy — which was effectively a renewal of the current tax, but in practice included a very slight hike to compensate for a Headlee Amendment rollback — would raise over $71 million for southeast Michigan’s regional bus system outside the city of Detroit in its first year.

In Macomb County, the ballot language said the millage would raise just over $27 million for SMART operations in its first year. Macomb is the only one of the three counties where all communities participate in the SMART system.

Drolet said that amount of taxpayer money warrants a closer look at the election result. “Just as importantly if not more, our elections are there for a purpose. And folks need to be assured that the outcome of the election is the correct outcome,” he said.

SMART spokeswoman Beth Gibbons said Thursday she could not immediately comment on whether the bus system would request a recount if the unofficial results doesn’t hold up at the Board of Canvassers.

However, Gibbons said that if the millage renewal ultimately fails, SMART would “cease to operate in Macomb County by the end of the year.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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