CHAMPAIGN — After nearly 6 1/2 years in business, the board of the Champaign Southwest Mass Transit District Tuesday voted to ask its attorney to investigate the process of terminating its existence.
The final meeting of the board could occur as soon as June 18.
Board members had asked residents of the district, located primarily west of Interstate 57 between Interstate 72 on the north and Curtis Road on the south, whether anyone was interested in forming another transit district that would provide service.
The letter was mailed in early January and no one voiced any interest, board members said at Tuesday's meeting.
The Champaign Southwest MTD was formed with voter approval in 2006, primarily as a way of blocking the expansion and taxation of the much larger Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District. But it has no equipment and has never provided service. It had a tax rate of about 2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation last year while the C-U MTD had a rate of about 27.25 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
The Champaign Southwest board already voted not to levy property taxes this year.
The smaller district includes about 5,430 acres in Champaign and outside the city, 1,178 acres of which also are in the district of the C-U MTD. After the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that both districts could operate simultaneously — essentially double-taxing hundreds of property taxpayers — representatives of the smaller district began discussing dissolving the district.
In more recent months a problem developed when property owners in the Champaign Southwest District, including the new Stephens Family YMCA, appealed for bus service that the smaller district was not willing to provide.
Board chairman Edward Vaughan, one of four original members of the board still serving, paraphrased Winston Churchill at Tuesday's meeting, saying, "We have done our duty and we cannot do more. I think that constitutes what we have done."
Meanwhile, board attorney Brett Kepley will look into how the district can dissolve and what it can do with approximately $77,755 in its treasury.
He said state statutes are unclear on how the board and the transit district can be dissolved.
"You are supposed to do it by resolution, certifying to the participating municipalities and counties which created you," he said, referring to state law. "But we weren't created by a county or a municipality."
"It almost sounds like we have to have a referendum for dissolution," said board member Mike Sutter.
"The other thing," said Kepley, "is who do we turn the money over to? It says that it goes to the municipality or the county which created it. But we weren't created by either entity. We were created by referendum."
Also at Tuesday's meeting board members presented a plaque to former member Ann Parkhill Suchoff, thanking her for 5 1/2 years of service on the board.