Transit district's budget history
In its years in operation, the Champaign Southwest Mass Transit District has collected about $195,000 in property taxes from residents of the area of southwest and west Champaign.
It's unclear what those residents got for their money, although about 25 percent of them have avoided paying taxes — temporarily, it appears — to the larger, more costly Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District.
But about 75 percent ended up being taxed by both transit districts. Last year, for example, the Champaign-Urbana MTD had a tax rate of more than 27 cents per $100 of assessed valuation while the smaller MTD had a rate of about 2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
The Champaign Southwest MTD was created on March 21, 2006, by a vote of the residents of an area primarily west of Interstate 57 between Interstate 72 on the north and Curtis Road on the south.
The agency has never provided bus service, nor contracted for it.
Board members have admitted that their real goal was not to provide service, but to prevent expansion of the C-U MTD into the area. But once the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that both districts could operate simultaneously, some members of the Champaign Southwest board said there was no reason to continue to exist.
Once the smaller transit district is dissolved, the larger MTD will be free to annex those areas that are in the city of Champaign, under terms of an intergovernmental agreement.
Nearly all of the money the Champaign Southwest MTD has collected has been spent either on legal fees, its annual audit, liability insurance or assorted administrative expenses.
In their most recent budget ordinance, adopted last November, Champaign Southwest MTD board members estimated yearly costs as $5,200 for the annual audit, $4,200 for legal expenses, $1,600 for liability insurance and $5,000 for operating expenses.
For the first time, the board opted not to ask for a property tax levy this year, deciding to cover its expenses with a cash balance that had grown to nearly $85,000 as of Nov. 1, 2012. At its last meeting in March, board members said the smaller transit district still had about $77,000 on hand.