Council considers withdrawing from MVTAAre Rosemount tax payers getting shafted by the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority? That was the question council members tried to answer during Tuesday night's council meeting.
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
Are Rosemount tax payers getting shafted by the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority? That was the question council members tried to answer during Tuesday night's council meeting.
For nearly 18 years the city of Rosemount has paid into the MVTA in hopes of getting transit to the area. With little to show for its time and money the city council is contemplating withdrawl from the organization.
The council put off its decision, though, until the MVTA board meets Feb. 11 and can formally address some of the issues brought up by the city.
The city has to give a notice of withdraw by Feb. 15 to pull its membership for 2010. The city council will hold a special meeting at city hall Thursday, Feb. 12 to vote on the issue at 6:45 p.m.
Before making its decision to put off a vote the council grilled MVTA executive director Beverley Miller.
Mayor Bill Droste, who seemed especially perterbed with the lack of progress, said after years of paying into the transit authority Rosemount residents still have to drive to neighboring cities to use it.
“Our residents are still driving just as far,” he said. He then asked Miller to justify why Rosemount residents should keep paying for it.
Seemingly caught off guard Miller said they MVTA has worked hard for the city and that continuing the partnership would eventually lead to results. When pressed as to when, she had no answer.
“I can't guarantee a facility,” she told the council.
The major concerns brought up by the council are the lack of facilities such as a Park and Ride within city limits. All the other partnering cities in the MVTA have at least one facility. The other member cities are Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan and Savage.
The other main concern is that what's being offered in Rosemount isn't convenient. In 2008 MVTA started offering two buses to Minneapolis from the Rosemount Community Center. Both buses leave the city before 7 a.m. and travel to the 157th Street Station on Pilot Knob before preceeding to Minneapolis.
Miller said the addition of the routes was a step in the right direction and encouraged the council to think of it as progress.
Council member Jeff Weisensel said he uses transit daily and found the Rosemount routes inconvenient. He added that he drives to Apple Valley and gets on the bus there.
When asked how the city could get more results out of its membership, Miller said the city should continue to partner with MVTA and Dakota County. She also suggested the city apply for grants.
Council member Kim Shoe-Corrigan said Rosemount has been doing those things all along and has yet to see any significant outcomes.
“I think we've been doing everything right,” said Shoe-Corrigan.
The city of Rosemount has been a member of the MVTA since its inception in 1991. In 2007 the city contributed roughly $700,000 to the transit authority. The funds are funneled through the Metropolitan Council.
If the city withdraws there would not be an immediate impact on current service since it will keep its membership through the end of the year. Next year, city administrator Dwight Johnson said the city will likely lose its flex route service along 145th and the two buses to Minneapolis from the community center. Residents who drive to neighboring cities will be able to continue using the service.
Rosemount is not the first to consider withdrawing from the MVTA. Several years ago the city of Prior Lake pulled out. Johnson said Prior Lake was able to retain its opt out status and have its funds returned to the city for approved transit services.
After opting out Prior Lake operated its own Laker Lines service and later formed a partnership with the city of Shakopee.