MTD could start service to Y in January

CHAMPAIGN — Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District buses could begin offering expanded service to the Stephens Family YMCA as early as January, Director Bill Volk said Wednesday.

The change is precipitated by Tuesday night's vote by the board of the Champaign Southwest Mass Transit District that it eventually will dissolve.

The YMCA is located within the boundaries of the Champaign Southwest district, which has never provided service and was formed in 2006 to block expansion of the larger MTD.

"If this indication by the Southwest board is taken by our board as a good faith move, then the board, I would imagine based on what they've said in the past, would move toward establishing service," Volk said.

The C-U MTD board indicated in April, in agreeing to a statement by board member Don Uchtmann, that it would support expanding service to the YMCA and the nearby Windsor West Apartments complex once the smaller MTD board began to move toward dissolution.

"I would expect the board to indicate to us to move ahead. Then we would probably try to establish service at the beginning of the second semester at the (University of Illinois), which would be Jan. 14 when classes start up again," Volk said.

The MTD board meets next on Dec. 5, and it could give the go-ahead at that time, Volk said.

"From a staff perspective, we'll probably suggest that we get with the YMCA and possibly do some work ahead of time in terms of service hours. We don't know when they need assistance, when people are coming and going," he said.

The first expansion to the YMCA, Volk said, likely would be by means of a van service that now operates during peak hours only from the Country Fair shopping center in west Champaign.

"What we will probably do is extend this service in a longer timeframe," he said, possibly throughout the day and into the evening.

A longer-term solution, including placing the YMCA on one of the MTD's fixed routes, will have to wait until next August, when the MTD makes its annual route and schedule changes.

"Whenever we have something on the edge of the community, it's difficult to make it convenient to get there for everyone," Volk said. "The best thing we can do is to hook something in from Country Fair for now. We have four bus lines that go there — the Green, the Orange, the Blue and the Brown. So we can take a smaller vehicle and go out there from Country Fair."

He said there probably wouldn't be any other changes to the C-U MTD routes this winter, even if the Champaign Southwest MTD goes out of business. But he said the larger MTD eventually would look at serving a condominium development proposed in the Turnberrry Ridge subdivision.

The Champaign Southwest board voted unanimously Tuesday to send a letter to about 500 of its constituents who are not in the C-U MTD district inviting them to form their own transit district. It also voted not to levy property taxes this year, effectively shutting down its sole source of funding.

If no one acts to form a new district within three months, the Champaign Southwest board decided, it will vote on a resolution asking the county board to put it out of business.

"The effect of such formation would be to block C-U MTD from forcibly annexing your territory, thereby imposing its taxes and its buses onto such territory," says the two-page letter, written by the Champaign Southwest MTD's attorney, Brett Kepley. He wrote that the owner of a home assessed at $200,000 would pay an additional $175 to $190 a year once annexed by the C-U MTD. A home assessed at $300,000 would pay $265 to $285 more annually.

The letter explains how a new transit district could be proposed and voted on by residents of the territory not currently in the C-U MTD.

"The district can control its own transportation issues and expenses without imposition by the C-U MTD," the letter says. "While CSWMTD overlaps areas of C-U MTD, CSWMTD is powerless to prevent C-U MTD from exercising its taxing powers and busing operations within the overlapped areas. CSWMTD cannot under law disconnect the areas overlapping with C-U MTD. If CSWMTD dissolves without a new district being formed in its replacement in the area outside C-U MTD, such area would be subject to annexation under unilateral action taken by the C-U MTD."

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

And did the letter state that they will still pay the lawyer and can still be annexed? Keep the fears going. The guy that started this whole thing doesn't even live here any more. He moved a year ago while all his neighbors have been double taxed. 

scott_tapley wrote on November 22, 2012 at 5:11 pm

I haven't read Kepley's letter, but I moved five years ago.  The district hasn't been taxed double...on top of the MTD's highest-in-Illinois tax rate residents paid another 1/10th of that rate to fund a lawsuit that attempted to block the MTD's undemocratic forced annexation--a battle that voters supported in two referenda by 80/20 and 70/30 margins.

If residents were taxed double (i.e, the CSWMTD collected the same rate as CUMTD), the CSWMTD would have $3 million in its coffers, not $80,000.

The CSWMTD's lawsuit failed, the board is disbanding (as it should), and the excess tax collected (more than 1/3 of what was collected over 7 years) will be refunded to taxpayers.

Perhaps one could argue the CSWMTD should have disbanded last year, but I'm proud of what we/they tried to accomplish and have no regret.

Mark Taylor wrote on November 22, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Yep!!!!!! Being taxed twice for the same ostensible service is not being "double" taxed -- it's just being taxed twice for the same thing.

See the difference, RSP?

Scott Tapley is a REAL AMERICAN who struck a blow against unnecessary taxation and wasteful unnecessary govermint entities by forming a taxing body that is still double twice over taxing people, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, but not providing any service.

Now that's fiscal responsibility!!!!!!!!!!

TEA PARTY!!!!!!! WOOOOOO HOOOOOOO!!1!!!!!!!!

Vote Tea Party GOP -- we'll do for the country what we're (still) doing for the SWMTD!!!!!!1!

rsp wrote on November 22, 2012 at 9:11 pm

I am so glad I was corrected. Made my day in fact.