Southwest MTD votes itself out of existence

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign Southwest Mass Transit District board voted itself out of business Tuesday night, opting to establish an endowment fund with the approximately $75,000 remaining in its bank account.

The board voted 5-0 to give the funds to the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois to provide transportation services for residents within the boundaries of the transit district in southwest Champaign.

It was a relatively sedate final meeting for a board that had been created more than seven years ago by voters who wanted to block expansion, including bus service and taxes, of the larger Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District.

Edward Vaughan, the chairman of the Champaign Southwest MTD board for its entire existence, said he believed the smaller district had accomplished something, even though it never provided transit services.

"I think we made people very much aware of a lot of the wastefulness of the C-U MTD," Vaughan said after the board's final meeting. "We brought a lot of awareness to the fact that they run empty buses. They did then, they still do run empty buses where and when they want, whether they're needed or not.

"But at the same time, out here I'm seeing some of the buses are smaller buses. I'm seeing a lot smaller buses run out here. Did we accomplish something by doing that? You'd better believe it."

Vaughan said he didn't know if the cost to taxpayers in the Champaign Southwest MTD was worth it, "but I sure hope so. I'm one of those taxpayers too."

The Champaign Southwest MTD board members voted to give Vaughan the authority to execute the endowment agreement with the Community Foundation after a lengthy discussion of options for disbursing the money.

Among alternatives proposed were to give it to the Champaign Park District for facilities in the area, giving it directly to the C-U MTD to pay for bus passes and granting it to the United Way or a number of other social service agencies.

Writing 2,200 refund checks to residents of the district — some for meager amounts — was deemed wasteful and inefficient. Officials feared that many of the checks would be so small that they would never be cashed, and the transit district's account could never be closed.

Board members also authorized Vaughan to send a letter to the Champaign County Board — once all of the transit district's money has been distributed — requesting that the Champaign Southwest MTD be dissolved as a government agency.

Vaughan said he thought that process would be completed by the end of the year.

He said he believed Champaign-Urbana needs mass transit, "but it's needed where it should be, and not out here and it's not out here on the wealthy outskirts."

And he criticized the C-U MTD for not providing service 365 days a year, and for spending money on advertising.

"They're spending their money willy-nilly. How much do the ads that you keep hearing on the television and radio about how I gotta ride the bus, I gotta get there? Well I could get there a whole lot better if they ran more buses and didn't do so much advertising," he said.

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mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 18, 2013 at 10:06 pm

A well met demise.

Arrogant and petty to the end. Lavish talk about the "wealthy outskirts" and petty sniping at the CUMTD's advertizing budget. These fools expect to be taken seriously?

Thank you gentlemen for revealing your loathsomeness to the world.

Vote Tea Party Republican. We'll do and say just exactly what these fine specimens have said and done.

nick wrote on June 18, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Mr.Vaughan gives the impression of an arrogant and spiteful person. His comments are foolish and self serving. Perhaps he has lived too long in the wealthy outskirts and has lost touch with the rest of the community.

rsp wrote on June 19, 2013 at 1:06 am

Maybe if they took the time to educate themselves about the mtd they would understand how it works instead of taking other peoples money and operating on assumptions. Yes they do drive empty buses around! Stores aren't full of people every second either! But those same buses run with standing room only and sometimes can't pick up people because there isn't any more room. I've seen where there were two buses running back to back and both were full. 

So after all this time, the irony is the board is using the money to actually provide transportation services to the people of their district. 

mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 19, 2013 at 10:06 am

What?

No one will defend these Tea Party Republican fools?

These reactionaries are the face and voice of the modern day Republican party. The Tea Party is in charge. Why will no one defend these Gop Tea Party standard bearers?

Vote Republican today and in the next few years and you are voting for clowns and fools like these geniuses.

Come on GOP, why are you so reluctant? These guys are your team. Why won't any of you defend them??

Cowards.

someGuyInUrbana wrote on June 19, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Woah, whatever happened to celebrating diversity?  Does that include diversity of thought?

mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 19, 2013 at 10:06 pm

What's the point you're trying to make? That I am somehow not able to be critical of views I disagree with? Please elaborate.

someGuyInUrbana wrote on June 21, 2013 at 8:06 pm

"Cowards", "clowns", "fools" -- not exactly the language of tolerance.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 22, 2013 at 8:06 am

Ya, I'm not very tolerant of clowns, fools, and especially cowards.

What's your point?

(It seems a bit cowardly, not to mention foolish and clownish, for you to not make your point directly.)