EDGAR CO., IL. (ECWd) -
On December 15, 2015 I submitted a request for public records to RIDES Mass Transit District, for all communications between them and Edgar County.
I received an answer the same day.
What I was interested in was any information they may be using to try and pry money out of Edgar County, money they are not authorized by law to obtain, and Edgar County is not authorized by law to give. This request came after obtaining to "opinion" from IDOT's Bureau Chief of Transit Operations (in this article), Mr. John Marrella. His letter purported to say that any left over funds from the dissolution of the ECIMTD was to go to RIDES, which violates state law.
RIDES responded to my request by providing the documents sent to Edgar County Board Chairman, Jeff Voigt, and Edgar County State's Attorney, Mark Isaf.
Within the documents was a letter from the attorney for RIDES-MTD complaining the county board violated a resolution it passed over two years ago promising to transfer the left over funds from ECIMTD to RIDES. The only problem with the resolution, and we brought it up at the time, was that the county cannot give, or transfer, the leftover funds to RIDES. Such a transfer of funds would be a violation of law.
The Local Mass Transit District Act is very clear on the issue in Section 9. Discontinuance.
CORRECTED THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH (12/20/2015):
(a) Whenever the Board of Trustees of any District shall determine that there is no longer a public need for its transportation services or that other adequate services are or can be made available, and that it should terminate its existence and services, it may by resolution so certify to the participating municipalities and counties which created it. If the participating municipalities and counties approve of such discontinuance, they may by ordinance or resolution, as the case may be, authorize the District to discontinue its services and wind up its affairs. A copy of such ordinance or resolution or both, shall be filed with the county or municipal clerk or clerks and the Secretary of State. After payment of all its debts and settlement of all obligations and claims, 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.
In the case of the East Central Illinois Mass Transit District ("ECIMTD"), which is made up of Clark and Edgar Counties, ...The funds remaining after settling all obligations and claims shall be paid to the Treasurer of each county, on a pro rata basis, within the boundary of the district. This was brought up to the board during public comment at the June 17, 2013 Edgar County Board Meeting.
Those comments were ignored, you know, because they have always done thing their way, the law be damned.
The letter from Mr. Marrella specifically states that " The Department [IDOT] now considers the grants related to East Central Illinois Mass Transit District operations settled and closed." OK, Fine. IDOT has set in motion the authority for ECIMTD to "pay over, on a pro rata basis, the funds remaining, to the Treasurer of each county [Clark and Edgar]" as mandated by the Local Mass Transit District Act.
Any issue with RIDES-MTD thinking they could get their hand on those funds is not valid. RIDES "annexed" (more on that later) Clark and Edgar Counties into their Mass Transit District because there was no mass transit district serving those two counties, therefore, there were no funds to transfer to them. The Local Mass Transit District Act expressly covers the issue [in Sections 8.1 and 8.5) by not providing authorization for one district to annex another district, and no authorization to "merge" the districts. We suspect this is because the taxpayers in one district should never be responsible for the debts of another district.
To the issue of the so-called Resolution passed by the Edgar County Board. There is no authorization within the Counties Code giving a county the authority to pay money to, grant money to, gift money to, or transfer money to, any Mass Transit District for any reason. The Resolution is not a legally binding Resolution and is unenforceable.
RIDES' position has been that the taxpayers of Edgar County have never contributed funds to the ECIMTD, all their funds came from grants, and the counties have no right to any funds remaining.
Our position, and it should be the position of Clark and Edgar counties, is that RIDES has no claim whatsoever on the monies since it annexed two counties that were not served by a mass transit district, the taxpayers of the counties did contribute financially to ECIMTD thru contributions made by their respective townships on an annual basis (with taxpayer funds), and the law governing mass transit districts mandates monies remaining after dissolution be given to the county treasurers (Clark and Edgar).
To that end, we pray the county board make the right decision, based on law, and refuse to hand Edgar County funds over to RIDES-MTD.
The dollar amounts involved include $152,000 cash, plus the remaining funds from the sale of ECIMTD property, plus the recovery of the real estate illegally sold by ECIMTD to PEDCO, who them sold it to NAL for a hefty profit. Additionally, RIDES has 'leased" two transit buses from Edgar County which the county is not receiving just compensation for.
“Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of peace.” ~ J. C. Ryle