Southwest MTD tables decisions

Southwest MTD tables decisions

CHAMPAIGN — Members of the Champaign Southwest Mass Transit District board may survey the approximately 2,200 residents of the district about whether they want it to continue to exist as a way of blocking expansion of the larger Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District.

A decision on whether to carry out the poll, which likely would be done by mail, was put off until the Champaign Southwest board's next meeting at 7 p.m. June 19, at the Windsor Road Christian Church, 2501 W. Windsor Road, C.

The board also tabled action on a resolution authorizing the C-U MTD to serve two facilities that are in the Champaign Southwest district but not in the larger mass transit district.

The sudden burst of activity by the Champaign Southwest MTD board — which has never provided bus service in its six-year history — was prompted by requests for service last month by the new Champaign County YMCA and the Windsor West apartment complex, both of which are about 1,000 feet south of Windsor Road and that far outside the C-U MTD boundaries.

"There are two of us here who are pretty certain that our constituents don't want this (bus) service," said new Champaign Southwest board member Jack Dempsey. "The people who are in the overlap area (in both the Champaign Southwest and the C-U MTD) who are getting a service they don't want and paying twice, how do we decide if those people care? And if they do care, what do they want us to do? Because that's what we're here to do."

Dempsey said the poll question needs to be asked "in a clear way so people understand what it is they're getting and what do they want to do."

"What I'd like to do is ask the people who we're here to serve," he said. "We'd have to make a little card with this (wording) on it, check yes or check no, and mail it out to everybody and hope that half of them send it back. And then we decide."

Board member Dave Short, who last month suggested that it was time to dissolve the smaller district, said Tuesday that the original intention of its organizers was to block expansion of the C-U MTD.

"All five of the members on this board, as well as the people who elected us to this board, their desire was to block the C-U MTD. They had no intention of ever starting an MTD system of their own," said Short. "The only thing they were trying to prevent was no MTD tax."

The Champaign Southwest MTD has a property tax rate of 1.83 cents per $100 of assessed valuation while the C-U MTD's rate is 28.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. About 25 percent of the residents of the Champaign Southwest's district pay only to the smaller MTD, while about 75 percent pay to both districts.

But once the Illinois Supreme Court decided last year that the two districts could coexist, Short said, "it defeated our original purpose."

Board members Steve Holland argued that blocking the larger MTD is still a worthwhile endeavor.

"There is a political value in standing in the way of an arrogant, greedy bureaucracy for as long as you can," Holland said.

The resolution to allow the larger MTD to serve the two facilities outside its taxing district was tabled after a short debate. It stated in part, "Not only is such transit authorized, but in the interest of the overall Champaign-Urbana community welfare, frequent and regular operations on a seven day per week basis is strongly encouraged."

Last month the C-U MTD board said it would be willing to provide service to the YMCA and apartment complex only if the Champaign Southwest MTD agreed to disband.

Also Tuesday night, the Champaign Southwest board approved a resolution thanking original board member Ann Parkhill Suchoff for her years of service. She was replaced by Dempsey at last month's meeting.

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thelowedown wrote on May 16, 2012 at 3:05 am

Steve Holland, SWMTD board member, says, "There is a political value in standing in the way of an arrogant, greedy bureaucracy for as long as you can." What is the political value in standing in the way of public transportation, requested by community partners and residents, and hoarding money collected for a government authority that provides literally zero services. It is SWMTD that is arrogant and greedy. SWMTD has steadfastly refused and stalled on issues of contracting with CUMTD to provide service or eliminate the SWMTD area out of some odd belief that zero growth to the area's transit services is a positive phenomenon. That's arrogance. Hoarding tax money, even in relatively small amounts, is greed.

Even original board members admit that there was never any intention of providing public transportation. Personally, I wonder if such public admission by founding members of the SWMTD authority constitutes any breach of civil or criminal law. Such a disengenuous creation of a transit authority is completely wrong and unethical and the height of hypocrisy for SWMTD board members.

MadGasser wrote on May 16, 2012 at 6:05 am
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75% of the residents in the SWMTD's "district" pay an extra tax to keep CUMTD out of the area, yet, these are likely the same residents who get all up in arms over a 4¢ gas tax?

whatithink wrote on May 16, 2012 at 6:05 am

Be and sure to send the questionaire to the "25%" not paying double taxes and carefully select to only ask those who definitely don't want MTD service.  Wish I could collect tax dollars and pay myself for doing nothing like these crooks.

Joe American wrote on May 16, 2012 at 9:05 am

You're apparently new to this whole issue, so allow me to explain it in plain English.  The VAST MAJORITY of the residents in this area paid dearly to live in an uncongested, bus-free area - and that's their right - so what's the problem?  The money that you claim they're collecting and doing nothing with are for legal fees to defend themselves against bus migration into the area that they moved to for that very reason.  The YMCA's desire for bus service doesn't negate the will of the people.  Sorry.  Next issue?

thelowedown wrote on May 17, 2012 at 1:05 am

But the citizens of the apartment complex aren't people allowed to have bus service? Their desire doesn't count?

Joe American wrote on May 31, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Oh, sorry.  I guess this was dropped on them AFTER they signed the lease, huh?


Wow.  Just WOW.

whatithink wrote on May 17, 2012 at 1:05 pm

You mean all the "better than you" stuck up people that paid too much for their homes.  It came to light in one of the previous reports from the paper that many of the newer residents of the area didn't even know they were paying double taxes for bus service that doesn't even exist.  Why can't they let the ymca and thae apartments have bus service or have bus stops at the entrance of these subdivisions?  I too, hate the MTD, but maybe those tax dollars for the southwest mtd would have better been spent on letting the mtd have "limited" access to the area so some can use the service.

Now I wouldn't be surprised if the MTD would refuse to have offer limited routes, they would probably only do it if they could make the routes, but we'll never know when the SWMTD never tries to agree on anything other than stealing peoples money.