EDGAR CO. (ECWd) -
It makes you wonder when people in our Government are so anxious to give away our property. Property that has value and worth yet Mr. Patrick is so insistent on giving it away that he has now called a Special County Board meeting to make sure it happens this month.
I urged the board during my presentation prior to my Civil Rights being violated to read the statute on the mass transit prior to taking action on the agenda items for that issue. Whether it was my urging or good judgement from Mr. Zuber I don't care. The point is Mr. Zuber raised concerns in the meeting and was willing to lead in a direction that forces answers to questions. My hats off to Mr. Zuber for his judgement as well as those that had the brains to table the motion, and NO, Mike Heltsley was not one of them.
The Mass Transit district has been plagued with problems, but that shouldn't surprise anyone considering Craig Smith sits on that board. When there is lack of oversite you get what you get.
During the June 12th County Board meeting, the agenda reflected three motions relating to the Mass Transit District.
- Authorization of Merger Between East Central Illinois Mass Transit and Rides Mass Transit District.
- Authorization of Vehicle Lease Agreement Between Edgar County and Rides Mass Transit District.
- Authorization of Appointment of King Sutton as Edgar County Representative to Rides Mass Transit District.
My primary concern on this matter is the fact the statute for the mass transit district makes no mention of a way for one district to "merge" into another. The language is specific and although there are ways another district can take over in this territory, a merger is not one of them.
Interestingly, the language found in the agenda for the June 17th Special Meeting of the County Board has changed significantly from the last agenda however there are still serious questions and concerns. The most notable differance is the fact they are no longer "merging" with this new outfit.
- Approve Discontinuance of East Central Illinois Mass Transit and Approve Annexation Into Rides Mass Transit District.
- Authorization of Vehicle Lease Agreement with Rides Mass Transit District.
- Authorization of Appointment of King Sutton to Rides Mass Transit District Board.
Let's look at each item and expose the concerns as it relates to your pocket book and the legality as we understand it.
There is specific language in the statute for allowing a Discontinuance. The law clearly says they can do this when they determine there is no longer a public need for its transportation services or that other adequate services are or can be made available.
We all know there is a need, and by all indications they simply can't manage what they have so they are going to allow another agency to provide the service.
So if they agree to discontinue the current district, what SHALL be done?
..any funds remaining after the sale and disposition of its property shall be disposed of by payment to the treasurer of the county or municipality which created it, or if created by 2 or more municipalities or counties, by payment to the several treasurers, first, to repay in whole or pro rata, funds advanced to the authority, and the balance, if any, pro rata according to the length of scheduled transportation route miles operated in the several municipalities and unincorporated areas of the several counties during the preceding calendar year.
However in this case, Mr. Patrick has made NO MENTION of the disposition of all the assets and it appears from what we have been told, they are going to simply give them the keys to the entire operation and give away all of the District assets to the new district.
I wonder what happens to all the confiscated equipment that was retrieved from Kami Miller's home during the criminal investigation? Does that evidence get turned over as well?
What about the Property that was purchased from PEDCO? Several acres of land that has sat idle since purchase, other than someone farming it! Has that land already been sold? If so, to whom? Any bets on yet another special interest deal was done that circumvented the law?
More interesting on this matters is the fact that our Mass Transit District is a two county district and two counties control it. How is Edgar County going to discontinue its operation when Clark county has made no such vote? In fact, by all indications, Clark county has voted to Annex into this new district without ever dissolving the current district which is in conflict with the law.
That brings us to the Annexation portion of that first motion on the agenda. The language allowing annexation is pretty clear. Yes it can be done from what we can tell but the criteria has to be met.
Under Section 3.01, which relates to the CREATION of a district, annexation is permitted. So it looks like the way they are trying to pull this off is to first eliminate the district we have, then annex into the new district.
I believe doing that clearly gives people from outside the area control of close to $1 Million dollars of funding that was established, with no assurances those funds will get used in our county. Another concern is the fact it has been claimed by some that certain key people looking to sell property for a new facility need this transaction to come from the New District operating the Mass Transit and not the current one as to avoid an appearance of impropriety. That points to possible more self dealing which shouldn't surprise anyone but we wont know more on that until it happens.
Now for the second item on the agenda, the Lease. With all the issues pertaining to Leases going on the past 6 months with RSB Aviation one can only wonder how this lease is going to compare to the one being created for the Airport. We have not seen a copy yet but have been told it basically allows this new Mass Transit District to use the two Bus's the County owns for the new district.
Is it so out of line to ask why we are leasing anything without getting funds for that lease? Didn't the sheriff express an interest in using one of those bus's after it was disclosed we owned two of them? If the jail shuts down they are going to need a vehicle for prisoner transportation. Leave it to this County Board to yet again, give away county assets and never get a dime in return.
As soon as we get a copy of this Lease agreement we will update the article!
The third item on the Agenda is to Appoint King Sutton to the new Mass Transit District as the Edgar County Representative.
My question is simply this: Before we give away our assets in this District is it too difficult to first attempt fixing the problems taking place at the Mass Transit operation, and ensure those jobs stay here and are not shuffled off elsewhere to other people? With all the corruption and misuse of taxpayer funds in that operation is it asking to much to simply first replace the entire board and start fresh?
I am betting that those options won't be tried because of the underlying financial interest tied to a big chunk of money. Time will tell!