Champaign Southwest MTD board to begin dissolving district

Champaign Southwest MTD board to begin dissolving district

CHAMPAIGN — The board of the Champaign Southwest Mass Transit District voted unanimously Tuesday to begin the process of dissolving the taxing district that was formed seven years ago to block expansion of the larger Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District.

"This is crazy," said Champaign Southwest board member Jack Dempsey. "The only people getting anything out of this are the lawyers and the auditors. Our citizens, in my particular case, are getting taxed twice. We're getting the (C-U MTD) service, whether we want it or not."

The board voted to send letters to approximately 500 homeowners in its taxing district who live outside the C-U MTD district, inviting them to form another transit district. If there is no movement from those homeowners within three months after the letters go out, the Champaign Southwest board will vote on a resolution asking the Champaign County Board to dissolve it.

"It was a good fight, but it's time," Dempsey said. "Why are we taxing these people for nothing? The answer is that some folks just don't like the MTD, and the other is there's this whole group of people out there who aren't in the overlap area, and if they want to go ahead and do it, then God bless them, and let them form their own MTD."

"Right now, we're protecting the 25 percent who aren't in the C-U MTD to the fact that we exist," said board member Dave Short, who proposed the arrangement several months ago. "Let's let the 25 percent do their thing if they want and get the other 75 percent out of the way. I just don't like wasting time. We have been spinning our wheels since the Supreme Court ruling in April 2011."

That is when the Illinois Supreme Court declined to consider an appeal of a Champaign County Circuit Court decision that found that the two mass transit districts could operate simultaneously.

But problems arose when some homeowners objected to being double-taxed because they were in both taxing districts, and others complained because they were being taxed by the Champaign Southwest district but got no service. Meanwhile, another issue arose when the new Champaign County YMCA opened with limited bus service because it is about 1,300 feet outside the larger MTD's service area and within the smaller MTD's district.

Amy Armstrong, a Champaign resident whose daughter has a disability, attended Tuesday's Champaign Southwest board meeting to ask for a resolution to the YMCA service issue.

"At the very least, I was coming here to ask them to buy a bus and provide service to the Y. Let's make this a transit district. To me, this is a disability issue. We need to be serving those with mobility issues," she said. "I wanted to have a conversation and put a face to those being affected by the lack of bus service."

Armstrong said she was surprised by Tuesday night's vote and wasn't sure what would happen next.

"I'm sure the next step will be for the Y to go back to the MTD board and say, 'You've got the clearance, so how do we serve the community better?' I'm sure that dialogue will happen because we all want to do what's best for the citizens of Champaign-Urbana."

Also at Tuesday's meeting, the Champaign Southwest board voted not to levy property taxes next year. In the past, it has levied about $39,000 a year. Board Chairman Edward Vaughan said the typical CSMTD homeowner pays about $20 a year in property taxes to the district.

The board also approved a $16,000 budget for the new fiscal year. The Champaign Southwest district has $84,695 in the bank.

Brett Kepley, the district's attorney, said that after the board votes to dissolve, those funds can be reimbursed to taxpayers in the district once other bills are paid.

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mankind wrote on November 21, 2012 at 9:11 am

This may go down in the books as the only transit district to never transport a single person. Good riddance to this double-taxing lawyer gravy train.

ddude wrote on November 21, 2012 at 10:11 am

these rich folks wasted a lot of their own and the taxpayers money just to avoid supporting the CUMTD. they must be bored.

Chazman wrote on November 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm
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It's about time that this happened!  I'm surprised that it went on as long as it did!  A transit district that doesn't have the means or ability to provide transit - I would have thought that at some point there would have been a lawsuit either demanding them to provide some semblance of service, or to cease and desist with the charade.  Regardless, I'm glad that at least now the citizens that live in the area formerly "serviced" by SWMTD will eventually have the ability to receive the service that they need.

randyandjoy1 wrote on November 21, 2012 at 2:11 pm

We have the same issue here. The rich folks who want as few of the commoners among them. We recently proposed a new Transit facility next door to a large mainline denominational church. They protested so vehemently the idea was tabled. Goes on everywhere.

Mqqneyes wrote on November 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm

The angry old white man society meeting is now called to order.

Mark Taylor wrote on November 21, 2012 at 10:11 pm

These great men are TRUE PATRIOTS and REAL AMERICANS who have been TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY by the communistics at the MTD so they STRUCK A BLOW FOR FREEDOM by forming a body that double taxes its residents while providing no service.

MAKES PERFECT SENSE TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!

This is exactly the kind of thinking that's going to lead the TEA Party and the GOP back to GLORIOUS VICTORIES in 2014 and beyond.

rsp wrote on November 22, 2012 at 3:11 am

Just think of all the people they could have given rides to the polls if they only had buses. Do you think Romney might have won?

Mark Taylor wrote on November 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Nah. The people who need rides to the polls tend to vote the wrong way. No help for them. It's much better to get a few hundred thousand clams from rich suckers PATRIOTIC REAL AMERICANS than it would be to help the wrong people vote.

rsp wrote on November 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm

My bad. I was thinking of that one lady that ran for vice prez, ran around on a bus one summer. It must have comfused me. I can't remember her name though...