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BATA threatens to sue GTC Board of Commissioners over BATA board recommendations

“That recommendation would offset the balance of what the nature of the agreement is,” Eric Linguar BATA Communications & Development Director

TRAVERSE CITY — Issues between the Bay Area Transportation Authority and the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners has broken out again, with BATA now threatening to sue.

The back and forth between the two entities first began earlier this year when BATA wanted to add two more seats to the board and appoint their own members to those seats. At the time commissioners argued only elected officials from Grand Traverse and Leelanau County could appoint new members.

The spat seemed to cool down this summer after BATA and the board passed an interlocal agreement Aug. 15 stating what members could be on the BATA board. However, new problems have risen now that Grand Traverse County is considering putting two commissioners on the board.


“What we want is good community representation on the board from a wide variety of folks and when you have two county commissioners from the same entity on one board it kind of offsets that balance,” BATA’s Director of Communications and Development, Eric Linguar acknowledged

Grand Traverse County Commissioner said it comes down to differing interpretations.

“A lot of the complaints is about the spirit o the agreement which is basically a way of saying, ‘I thought it meant this,’” Hentschel said.

The agreement state’s that one county commissioner from Leelanau and Grand Traverse can serve on the board as an “ex-officio representative.” Grand Traverse County also selects three community representatives, with Leelanau selecting one and BATA selecting the final member.


“Later on in the agreement it says each county will have citizen representatives. So, our interpretation is being a county commissioner doesn’t make you not a citizen. You can still be a [citizen] representative, just not an ex-officio representative,” Hentschel explained.

Earlier in the week an ad hoc committee made up of three of the nine county commissioners recommended commissioner Brad Jewett and Scott Sieffert. Hentschel said Sieffert’s experience working at Dean Transportation and living in Kingsley will add valuable experience to the board and help address the needs of the Kingsley area.

However, the BATA board last night threatened to sue the county if they move forward with the recommendations.

Hentschel said they consulted and were given approval from their attorney before making the preliminary recommendations.


“If a judge disagrees with our attorney we will humbly comply with what [they] say,” Hentschel admitted.

Hentschel assures the disagreement won’t have an impact on drivers or riders, however, Linguar said if the board gets what they want, it very well may.

“It could cause some disruptions with services if certain folks on the board decide to direct resources in other locations,”

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