County board finalizes dissolution of Southwest MTD

County board finalizes dissolution of Southwest MTD

URBANA — The Champaign Southwest Mass Transit District is no more.

With a unanimous vote of the Champaign County Board Tuesday night, the nearly 8-year-old mass transit district — which never provided bus service in its history — was dissolved.

Under state law, the county board — which appointed the first group of Champaign Southwest MTD board members in 2006 — may authorize the district "to discontinue its services and wind up its affairs."

The end came with nary a whimper. There was no discussion among county board members about the dissolution of the district, only a question about what would become of its funds.

The five members of the Champaign Southwest Mass Transit District board voted last June to give about $75,000 remaining in its treasury to establish an endowment fund to provide transportation services for residents within the boundaries of the transit district in southwest Champaign. The Community Foundation of East Central Illinois was appointed to oversee the endowment fund.

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.

Its supporters and board members eventually admitted that the transit district was established to block the expansion of the much larger — and higher taxing — Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District.

A large part of the southwest Champaign was in both transit districts. And after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that both districts could operate simultaneously, a majority of the members of the Champaign Southwest board said there was no reason to continue to exist.

The last year that smaller MTD levied a property tax, 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.

Also Tuesday night county board members approved the release of a request for proposals for a manager for the Champaign County Nursing Home, for a period begining July 1.

The current manager of the home, Management Performance Associates of Chesterfield, Mo., is expected to reapply to run it, according to county board member Josh Hartke. MPA has managed the facility for almost six years.

"Personally I'm happy with the way MPA has turned around the financial situation at the nursing home," said Hartke, who also is on the nursing home board of directors. "I think the general idea here is to get this out in the open so that if there are better proposals we are getting as good a deal as we can get."

MPA is paid about $200,000 a year to manage the public nursing home.

Also Tuesday board members learned that the county is likely to wrap up the last fiscal year — which ended Nov. 30, 2013 — with a yearly balance of about $415,900. The county also is projected to have a $4.76 million fund balance.

Six of 22 board members were absent Tuesday, including board chair Alan Kurtz, a Democrat, plus Democrats Lloyd Carter, Ralph Langenehim and Giraldo Rosales, and Republicans Max Mitchell and Jeff Kibler.

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